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On the heels of an announcement by Pear Bureau Northwest that U.S. pears have gained access to the Chinese market, Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers, located in Wenatchee, WA, is preparing to begin shipments.

"We are planning on loading our first containers once we get all the documentation in order," Scott Marboe, director of marketing, said in a press release. Oneonta-Starr-Ranch-pear-po"This is a new and exciting opportunity for the growers of the Northwest."

Official word on the opening of China to pears from the United States came from Kevin Moffitt, PBNW president and chief executive officer, who said, "We have been working on this for 20 years, and the official request from our government happened in 1994.

"Based on our exports to Hong Kong and Taiwan and the overall market size of China, it could easily rank among the top five export markets for USA Pears within the next two or three seasons," Mr. Moffitt said.

Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers' pears are shipping under the "Diamond Starr Growers" label from the operation's Odell, OR, facility.

Mr. Marboe said the outlook is especially good for Red and Green d'Anjou varieties.

"We have had good success with other Asian markets with these pears, and we have seen particularly strong interest in the Red d'Anjou,” said Mr. Marboe. “We've reached out by sending a number of point-of-sale kits that tout the 'Diamond Starr Growers' label, and they have been well-received by our customers. We have sales representation in China, and we feel that will really be beneficial to the growers, the brand and USA pears as a whole as this market unfolds."

Mr. Marboe said Asian markets prefer a different pear texture, and he added, "It is important to make sure they are educated on the characteristics and qualities of these varieties. As we work alongside the Pear Bureau Northwest, we think this is a great industry opportunity."

Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers ships under the "Starr Ranch Growers," "Elegants," "Cascadian," "Five Starr," "Diamond Starr Growers," "Oneonta Organics" and "Columbia Valley Fruit" labels.