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David J. Elliot focuses on consistent quality and top-notch customer service

For the past year, produce industry veteran Larelle Miller has been reinitiated in California’s pear industry, serving as sales manager for David J. Elliot & Son/DE Orchards LP, based in Courtland, CA. And while the company may not be the leader in the industry, it’s definitely a name that people love and trust — a reputation it has had since the 1860’s, when gold miners would bid gold nuggets for the great tasting pears from Stillwater Orchards.

“The California pear growers have kind of sunk down to four major shippers and we’re number four in terms of volume, so we’re the smallest,” she said. “All our acreage is on the river and everything we pack is company-owned, and by only handling our own product, we have full control over it from beginning to end.”

bartlett-pearsTo stay successful in the California pear industry, the company shoots for a consistent quality and focuses on offering top customer service.

“Over the last four months, we’ve seen California Bartletts getting squeezed out by Northwest Anjous being available year-round and the Northwest as a whole, because of their volume, is hurting California,” Miller said. “It’s kind of losing its window and the industry is trying to figure out how we can bring that excitement back for California pears.”

David J. Elliot & Son has a strategy in place to try and convince retailers to carry California Bartletts through October rather than bailing mid-way through the season.

“We’ve come up with different ways to merchandise, like the high-graphic pouch bags, trying to add to the displays and shelf space, so you have bags in bulk,” Miller said. “I think the California Pear Board as a whole is renewing their effort on the domestic, generic promotions to get the word out to some targeted retailers that California pears are relevant.”

The Bosc pair, she noted, is gaining in popularity lately because of it being a little more versatile and can be eaten fresh out of the hand or works well in salads or baking. The storage ability of the pear is a little bit better than Bartletts as well.

The company is trying a couple of new things with its packing line and testing a new box filler from Italy-based company, Unitec, which is supposed to be a bit more gentle.