Northwest pear growers are estimating a fresh crop of about 17.6 million boxes for the 2017 season, down 2 percent from last year and down 10 percent from the five-year average.
Growers in Oregon’s Mid-Columbia region say they expect to rebound slightly from a short crop last year, but growers overall in the Northwest anticipate a third straight year of a shorter crop—one that comes in below the 20 million box mark.
The Processed Pear Committee also estimated a smaller crop for canning—setting their budget at somewhere around 103,000 tons—because more orchards are being transitioned to organic and more fruit is being sold for fresh. That continues a downward trend for canning, where just half the Bartlett crop was diverted to processing last year, down from 75 percent in 1990, and comes as imports continue to trend upward. Last year, more than 25,000 tons of processed pears entered the U.S., led by China, though imports overall were down 21 percent for the first quarter of 2017.
In business action, the committee approved an assessment increase from $7 per ton to $8 per ton, with $6.35 designated for promotion, $1.15 for research and 50 cents for administrative costs, effective with the 2017 crop. The rate hasn’t been increased from $7 since the 2011 crop year.
Washington growers also continue to pay a $1 per ton assessment by the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, approved as a special project assessment several years ago.
The Fresh Pear Committee, meanwhile, voted to maintain assessments at 44.9 cents per box, with 38.5 cents for promotion, 3.1 cents for research and 3.3 cents for administrative costs.
Assessments were approved during committee meetings at the Northwest Pear Bureau’s annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Pear Bureau’s trade priorities also remained unchanged for the 2017 crop year, following a challenging year for exports due to the high U.S. dollar, high fob prices and increasing competition, international marketing director Jeff Correa said.
According to the Pear Bureau’s latest crop report, exports were down 17 percent overall for the 2015-16 crop—15 percent to Mexico, 56 percent to China, 38 percent to the United Arab Emirates, 43 percent to India and 65 percent to Colombia. One reason: Pear-producing countries in the European Union increasingly entered new markets, such as India, the Middle East and China, where the EU exported 350,700 44-pound box equivalents, compared with 111,000 boxes from the U.S.
For the 2017 year, priority markets include Mexico, United Arab Emirates, India, China and the South and Central American regions, including Brazil.