Mexico is a dominant buyer of Northwest pear exports, but other markets also seem to growing their appetites for the product, according to Milwaukie, Ore.-based Pear Bureau Northwest.
In the past year, pear exports were good overall with a 28% increase over the previous season, said Kevin Moffitt, the bureau’s president and CEO.
Mexico accounted for most of that increase, with 61% of all of the exports to date and 87% of the increased exports, he said.
“Canada also had a good year, with exports there up 23%,” Moffitt said.
The countries account for more than 80% of U.S. fresh pear exports, Moffitt said.
Israel was the third-largest export market, with a 148% increase. Exports to Colombia, United Arab Emirates, India and Brazil “were also good this year,” Moffitt said.
Tariffs took a toll on pear shipments to China, leading to a 93% decrease in exports into that market, Moffitt said.
Green anjous made up 73% of the exports in the past year, followed by green bartlett, at 17%, and bosc, at 9%, Moffitt said.
Grower-shippers say they anticipate another positive year for exports.
“Exports are a core part of what we do, and we’ll have pears in every market across the globe,” said Dan Davis, director of business development with Wenatchee, Wash.-based Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers.
Mexico customers will focus on buying bartlett pears throughout the fall and winter, and the export business on anjou and other winter pears, while focused throughout the season, will be “heavier to the spring months,” said John Long, director of the sales and operations in the Union Gap, Wash., office of Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc.
“We anticipate that there will be good demand for export pears throughout the season,” he said. “Export business on anjou pears is steady but limited.”
There do seem to be some questions hanging over the export business this year, some shippers said.
Mexico is the dominant export customer for Hood River, Ore.-based Pine Grove Orchard LLC, said Ken Newman, co-owner.
Trade disputes, tariffs and stalemates seem to take some of the certitude out of the export markets, Newman said.
“Currently, the geopolitical climate is a challenge we face,” he said.
Selah, Wash.-based Rainier Fruit Co. does business with clients in Canada, Mexico and the Middle East, all of which “will be in play” this year, said Andy Tudor, vice president of business development.
“We all know how exchange rates can affect some of the volume and flow, but we manage,” he said.