Good Fruit Grower

September 2016

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8 SEPTEMBER 2016 Good Fruit Grower C onditioning pears is nothing new, but industry officials are still asking shippers and retailers to do more of it. "It's been an ongoing process," said Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of Pear Bureau Northwest, which promotes fresh pears from Washington and Oregon under a federal marketing order and the brand USA Pears. For 15 years or so, the Pear Bureau has encouraged both retailers and packing houses to build controlled atmosphere rooms in which to condition pears, kick-starting their natural ripening process with ethylene gas treatments. The theory is that shoppers will buy more pears if the fruit is closer to ripeness at the time of purchase. And it's true: In 2012, conditioned pears sold nearly 20 percent better than unconditioned pears in a study by the Pear Bureau and Nielsen Perishables. "If people understand you have ripe pears or ripe fruit, you're going to distinguish yourself from your competi- tion," Moffitt said. Chalk it up to the obvious. Impatient shoppers don't want to either wait for their fruit to ripen or help it by, say, placing it in a bowl next to a banana. (Bananas release a lot of ethylene that will hasten ripening of any other nearby fruit.) A total of 71 percent of pear shoppers eat their fruit within three days of purchase, according to Pear Bureau statistics. Pears Pear industry continuing to push for more pear conditioning. by Ross Courtney Persistent conditions Photos by Ross CouRtney/Good FRuit GRoweR Above, the pear on the left — note the blush hue — has been ethylene treated. The pear on the right is untreated. In the photo at right, ethylene treated pears are shown inside a controlled atmosphere room at Blue Star Growers in Cashmere, Washington. Though the process is nothing new, industry officials still urge both shippers and retailers to condition pears so they are riper when a shopper picks one up. The device in the foreground emits the ethylene gas that permeates the vented boxes.

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