Stemilt eyes sweet start for Rushing Rivers summer pears
The dog days of summer are fading in the distance, and that signals the start of Stemilt’s new pear crop and the arrival of summer varieties. The company is in full harvest mode on its Rushing Rivers conventional and organic Bartlett and Starkrimson pears, and packing fruit fresh to order now to spur the back-to-school rush and first promotions of the season at retail.
According to Brianna Shales, Stemilt marketing director, early indicators point to a high-quality pear crop with a range of sizes for promotion.
“It’s hard to believe we are already at that intersection between the summer and fall seasons for produce, but that’s what the start of pear harvest always signals for me,” said Shales. “Starkrimson and Bartlett pears are the first to come off the tree for Stemilt and are ready to promote at retail during the transition to fall sets and fall flavors.”
Starkrimson is trending toward normal fruit size and opportunities to promote bulk and bags at retail. Stemilt has two pouch bag offerings for this bright red fruit, including the always-popular back-to-school pack Lil Snappers. The three-pound pouch bag of kid-size fruit is a great feature alongside first of the season bulk ads that feature red and green pears. Stemilt also has a larger five-pound pouch bag pack in the Rushing Rivers pear brand for its summer varieties.
“Starkrimson is a fantastic eating red pear and available for the early part of the pear season,” said Shales. “This year’s fruit is super juicy with high sugars and true dessert eating quality.”
Bartlett is the category leader at the front half of the pear season, and Stemilt is actively harvesting and packing both conventional and organic fruits now. Bags are a great opportunity for organic Bartlett, and Stemilt has a two-pound Artisan Organics Lil Snappers option to help attract parents to buy organic and snack-ready pears this fall. There are also key times in the early fall months to promote bulk organic Bartlett pears.
“Organic pears are a challenge to grow, but we’re a believer and long-time leader in them,” said Shales. “This year, we have increased volume on organic Bartlett as new acreage has come into organic production. Starting the season off with an organic Bartlett feature is a great way to build organic and pear sales.”
On the conventional Bartlett side, Stemilt will have a similar size crop as last year and is harvesting fruit to help with season extension into February. Stemilt will have good supplies of bulk and bag sizes, but fewer jumbo-sized Bartletts this year.
“We’re fussy about Bartletts and do all the little things during and immediately after harvest to ensure great condition and quality at retail,” said Shales. “Bartlett benefits from hydro-cooling soon after harvest and are packed fresh to order. We also utilize our RipeRite ready-to-eat pear ripening protocol and Thermal Tech ripening rooms to deliver a great eating experience from the very start of the season.”
In September, Stemilt will begin harvesting winter pear varieties, including Bosc and Concorde. D’Anjou pears harvest next and start shipping in October following a cold treatment and ripening process that ensures ready-to-eat fruit.
Stemilt’s summer and winter pear varieties are grown in the Wenatchee and Entiat River Valleys, where growing conditions are perfect for pears. Great airflow, a mountain climate that protects pears, and volcanic soils all combine to make these locales a pear farmer’s dream come true.
“There are many layers that make our Rushing Rivers pears the best, but the locales these pears call home are the center of our brand and help connect shoppers to the flavor difference that we work hard to achieve,” said Shales. “A great experience will drive consumers to another purchase of pears and that’s simply the best way to build the pear category.”