Jeff Correa, director of export promotions at the Pear Bureau Northwest, said that early in the season pear exports seemed on track to beat last year's record volumes.
With port movement back to normal, the coming season's export prospects will depend to a large extent on whether the Russian market is reopened.
Russia, which took almost 500,000 boxes of U.S. pears in the 2013-2014 season, banned imports of European and U.S. foods last August in retaliation against Western sanctions placed on Russia over its actions in the Ukraine.
said Russia could decide to renew the one-year ban in August unless the U.S. and European Union sanctions are lifted.
The ban has had a ripple effect, as European countries, such as Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, which relied heavily on the Russian market, are also seeking alternative outlets for their pears, Correa
reported at annual pear meetings in Portland, Oregon, in late May.
The ban has forced those countries to ramp up their efforts in markets outside Europe, such as Latin America, Brazil, Central America, the Middle East, and Asia.
Should the ban continue, Correa
expects European producers to build on their momentum of this season and be more aggressive in those export markets with competitive pricing and promotions.
The European Union
is offering promotional support through a similar program to the federal Market Access Promotion.
Belgium and the Netherlands have been doing in-store promotions of Conference pears in China.
said even without the ban, he
doubts Northwest pear exports to Russia will immediately rebound to 450,000 or 500,000 boxes.
said China is a growth market with a potential for 300,000 boxes annually, but exports this season were hampered by the port slow down.
The Pear Bureau
is hoping to expand its efforts to new markets within China and promote additional varieties.
Most pears shipped to China are Starkrimson and green and red d'Anjou.
sees potential for small volumes of Bartlett and Bosc.
"I think we may have taken a back seat with the pressure to move as many apples as possible," Correa
The Pear Bureau
will no longer have a presence in Malaysia, which Correa
said has not been responding to promotions and activities.
Consumers there seem to prefer crunchy Asian pears to the soft European varieties.
Efforts will be directed instead to Indonesia and Vietnam where opportunities are thought to be better.
Brazil has banned pear imports from neighboring Argentina because of codling moth infestations.
said there are many abandoned orchards in Argentina's Rio Negro and no agency is responsible for making sure trees are removed or sprayed to prevent the pest from infesting other orchards.
Brazil could reopen the market this July, which could result in a flood of cheap Packham pears from Argentina.
Brazilian consumers prefer Bartlett pears, so the market for next season's U.S. Bartletts should be good, but Argentine Packham pears could compete with U.S. d'Anjou pears in November and December, he