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Rivermaid Trading Co. projects nice demand for Bartletts

capears With more than 4,000 acres of pears, Rivermaid Trading Co. is one of California’s largest and most experienced pear growers, packers and marketers. The Lodi-based company grows approximately 50 percent of all pears in the state and is the state’s largest shipper of Bartlett and Bosc pears.

Kyle Persky, sales manager for the company, is optimistic about the upcoming California pear season with the harvest starting the week of July 13.

“Our official estimate on Bartlett pears in terms of total tonnage will be down about 11 percent, with 1.7 million, and one of the shortest crops we’ve ever had,” he noted. “We’re expecting solid demand to open the season. Last year, there were a lot of imported smart-fresh-treated Bartletts from Argentina, which really impacted our July sales last year. We’re hearing there’s not that carryover this year and import numbers are down about a million pears from South America.”

He expected light volume at first, with the volume gaining stride around the week of July 20, when the company will start to ship promotional volumes of Bartletts and Red Starkrimson pears.

“Golden Bosc pears will start the week of July 27 with lighter volumes and hit their peak production in early August,” Persky said. “Those are the three chairs you typically see in the retail displays.”

Rivermaid Trading Co. was in the midst of its California cherry season when the pandemic began so it has been implementing health and safety procedures for a few months now in response to COVID-19. Those include everyone wearing masks, separators between people on the sorting lines and anyone with any signs of sickness being sent home.

“We’ve been very diligent about not having people wander through production facilities; people stay in their areas,” Persky said. “It didn’t really impact our operations in how we proceeded through our cherry season, and now that we have been through it, we know what to expect and are prepared for pear season.”

One thing he sees changing about the pear season is the increase in demand for pouch bag options for pears.

“These have been very successful the last few years and I expect it to kick up a notch because of the pandemic,” Persky said. “I think if retailers don’t have these bags available, I think they are missing out on some big opportunities.”

Although Rivermaid Trading Co. will be packing fewer pears in 2020, it still plans to get the most out of the category.

“To do that, you have to get the most out of the Bartletts and that means getting the most out of California before transitioning to the Northwest,” Persky said. “We don’t have the controlled atmosphere storage in California and have to market our fruit in a certain time window, so it’s important that retailers maximize that window when available.”

Rivermaid Trading Co. is looking at 2020 as a real opportunity to bounce back with the pear category with the imports cleaned up, people buying more packaged product and great tasting pears expected.

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