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Rivermaid remains a leader in California pears

As one of California’s largest pear shippers, Rivermaid Trading Co. works with more than half of the state’s volume of Bartlett and Golden Bosc pears. The company has fruit from both the early district and later districts, so it can offer season-long pears to its customers.20180619 102751

“This year we expect to have more than a million boxes of Bartletts and we measure everything in 36-pound units,” said Kyle Persky, sales manager for the Lodi, CA-based company. “The industry is expected to have around 2 million Bartletts, down from 2.3 million last year. All varieties last year came in around 3 million and this year we are looking at around 2.5 million.”

The decrease comes because 2017 saw a very large river crop with a lot of small fruit and high tonnage per acre. This year is a much lighter crop, set primarily due to lack of dormancy and less than ideal bloom weather.  

The pear harvest is also a little later than last year. Rivermaid Trading Co. expects Bartletts to start the week of July 16.

“What we try to do is provide consistent quality, a full range of varietals and offer packaging flexibility,” Persky said.

People in the pear industry are buzzing about the Bartlett in 2018. Not only is it the preferred variety among most customers, the California variety is the first available of the season and there’s lots of excitement surrounding it.

“There’s not a lot of import carryover this year,” Persky said. “Other pears out there were last year’s crop so people are looking forward to these pears coming.”

The industry is not without its challenges. Labor is always an issue and the trade policy is a potential challenge that could affect the pear providers soon. These are things the company is keeping an eye one.

“On the field level, fire blight is an issue, this is a bacterial infection that can strike the trees and eventually kill the trees,” Persky said. “This year it’s a pretty significant problem, mostly with the Starkrimson red pear variety.”

In 2018, Rivermaid Trading Co. will continue growing its Northwest pear program, taking on more commitments from the area, shipping out of Oregon.

On the retail level, Persky noted that added activity can really help drive sales of pears. That includes demos, sampling, cross-promotion with other items, new packaging (such as a pouch bag) and good placement and secondary displays.

“Pears are an impulse item and sales will not be fully realized unless there is some activity surrounding them,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a steady year.”