As the pear industry prepares to mark World Pear Day on Dec. 1, “It was a great year for Hood River County,” said Mike Doke, executive director of Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers, the consortium of regional orchards and packinghouses.
Doke said that in 2018, the Columbia Gorge region saw a 29 percent increase in volume compared to 2017 — a record 20.4 million 44-pound boxes.
“We had a good spring and good weather, other than one frost in late February and a June storm that hurt pears in the mid valley area,” Doke said.
Overwhelmingly, Anjous form the main crop in Hood River County, and pears comprise 90 percent of the fruit grown in the county — the nation’s largest pear-producing area.
“We have good looking fruit,” said Doke.
“We had good conditions and are seeing good prices, but right now, there is a lot of fruit in storage, and we have yet to move it out to see what prices will continue. Most of them are winter pears, which do well on the market for next six-seven months.”
Doke reported a better crop in Hood River and other northern growing areas than down south: California growers totaled 2.75 million 36-pound boxes.
While no specific events are planned for World Pear Day, the main source area of U.S. pears, Pear Bureau Northwest/USA Pears plans to tell the story of the fruit.
In Hood River County, local pears can be found at supermarkets and at select farmstands that maintain honor-system self-service sales.
To kick off the 14th year of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proclaiming December to be National Pear Month, Pear Bureau Northwest/USA Pears will do promotional efforts on a global scale, according to a Pear Bureau press release.
On Dec. 1, World Pear Day festivities around the world will give consumers the chance to sample pears in person. Online activities include games, prizes and more. There will be opportunities to connect with pear lovers from all over the world by visiting USA Pears on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) and using and following the #WorldPearDay hashtag.
Beginning at 2 p.m. local time in New Zealand (5 p.m. PST), people will be able to taste a variety of USA-grown pears via pop-up sampling events in more than 24 countries including India, United Arab Emirates, Brazil and Mexico, for 24 hours of continuous sampling and promotion.
In North America, there will be nearly 500 sampling events and the day will conclude in Leavenworth, Wash., at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Festival.
Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of Pear Bureau Northwest, sees the event as an effective way to connect directly with consumers. “USA Pears is once again promoting World Pear Day to kick off National Pear Month in December. In its third year, we see the event as an entertaining and compelling activity raising pear enthusiasm and consumer engagement worldwide at the pinnacle of the pear season.”
Northwest pears are now at their peak and available worldwide, making World Pear Day and National Pear Month the best time to celebrate their abundance. The 10 varieties of pears grown in Washington and Oregon include: Green Anjou, Red Anjou, Bartlett, Red Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, Forelle, Seckel and Starkrimson.
Retailers interested in participating in World Pear Day by hosting a sampling event and/or promoting the day in any way can visit trade.usapears.com/world-pear-day for additional info.
Pear Bureau Northwest is a non-profit marketing organization established in 1931 to promote the fresh pears grown in Washington and Oregon, home to 88 percent of the U.S. commercial fresh pear crop. The Bureau represents close to 900 grower families and partners with outlets throughout the world in an effort to increase overall success with the pear category. The organization provides marketing and merchandising expertise that is customized specifically for each retail organization, using its pear consumer research findings as well as individual store analysis using an in-house data system that measures pear category performance nationwide and third-party research to show retailers how they perform versus their competition. Retailers who are interested in partnering with Pear Bureau Northwest should contact them at email@example.com or 1 800-547-4610, as well as visit USAPears.org or Trade.USAPears.org.