Local pears heading for China

WENATCHEE — Northwest pears will soon be sold and shipped to China for the first time, thanks to a recent agreement the U.S. pear industry and Chinese government.

The agreement was announced Wednesday during Washington Pear Day in Wenatchee. The pear industry has been trying to get approval to sell pears in China for nearly 20 years, said Kevin Moffitt, president of the Pear Bureau Northwest.

Moffitt said shipments will begin soon and should increase greatly over the next few years.

“Based on our exports to Hong Kong and Taiwan and overall size of China, it could easily rank among the top five exports markets for USA Pears within the next two or three seasons,” he said.

Estimates are for between 25,000 and 40,000 44-pound boxes to be shipped between February and April, and possibly as much as 300,000 boxes by 2016. Red pear varieties like Red Anjou and Starkrimson are expected to sell especially well in China, where red is an important color, said Jeff Correa, Pear Bureau director of international marketing.

The Wenatchee District is the nation’s largest producer of fresh pears. The nation’s largest winter pear growing area and largest pear packing houses and shippers are located between Wenatchee and Peshastin.

The Pear Bureau plans to begin aggressive promotion of U.S. pears in major east coast China cities immediately.