Our colleague and top fruit expert Joop Vernooij was asked about his expectations for the coming pear season. "It's been early, and the fruit has developed very nicely, thanks to all the nice weather after flowering. The pears are, thus, a little larger. We expect normal production, similar to that of 2020. The quality is also top-notch, thanks to the good weather."
The first commercial Red Conference crop is expected this year. "The fruit is developing beautifully. However, the harvest will be a little small. The pears, especially the young Red Conference trees, molted heavily in June. This natural thinning means we'll have somewhat fewer but nice big fruit. In that respect, this crop seems very well suited to market Red Conference and leave a good first impression."
The Staay Food Group now has 60 hectares of Red Conference across the Netherlands. "We can begin harvesting at the end of August. That's three weeks earlier than last season," says Joop.
"That applies to the Red Conference too. After being cooled, these pears will be available for sale for the first time (to a limited extent) from September onwards."
According to Joop, there is local and overseas interest in these pears. "We've seen plenty of international demand for red pears for some time. However, Dutch consumers," he says, "have so far remained loyal to the Conference pear."
"When it comes to pears, retailers, therefore, find it tough to surprise their customers and distinguish themselves. A red variant of the familiar Conference offers opportunities in this respect. All the more so because these pears have the same characteristics, so well-suited to the ever-growing ready-to-eat segment."
How does he see the future, given the ever-rising prices? "It won't be easy with the continuing price pressure and rising costs. Growers will have to differentiate themselves somehow. We have a striking range of exclusive varieties (Dazzling Gold, Early Desire, and now also the Red Conference) and good volumes of traditional hard fruit. I, thus, think we're in a strong position," Joop replies in conclusion.