Heading into the new year, grower-shippers expect continued brisk demand for a record Northwest pear crop.

The new year is shaping up to be a continuation of the strong 2009-10 season so far, said Loren Queen, marketing and communications manager for Domex Superfresh Growers, Yakima, Wash.

“Movement’s been great, and the returns to growers have been great,” he said. “Overall, it’s a cheery outlook for pears.”

January should see an abundant number of ads on the season’s last batch of bartletts, said Mike Hamilton, who handles special projects for Columbia Marketing International, Wenatchee, Wash.

After January, anjous and boscs will take over the lion’s share of the northwest pear deal for the remainder of the season, he said.

An expected three-week delay in the beginning of some of the import pear deals has been a boon for Northwest growers, Queen said. In addition, imported fruit is reported smaller this year, in contrast to the large Northwest fruit U.S. consumers like.

As a result, markets should stay strong even when South American product begins arriving in February, Queen said.

Heading into the new year, Queen said he expects a “slight inflation” in domestic pear prices.

An “excellent” supply of size 90 and larger fruit should bode well for the domestic market in 2010, Hamilton said. It’s a boost, he said, the industry could use.

“We’ve had very good export movement, but I’d like to see domestic demand pick up,” he said.

Hamilton said he expects markets to remain stable heading into the new year.

Wenatchee-based Giumarra of Wenatchee expects to receive its first shipment of Chilean bartletts the last week of January, about on time, said Tom Richardson, the company’s general manager.

Despite the large number of domestic anjous and boscs that will likely still be in the marketplace when the Chilean deal begins, Richardson said the imports always get strong pull because they’re the only bartletts in the marketplace.

Richardson said he expects normal volumes and size profile in the Chilean deal. Giumarra will begin receiving pears from Argentina beginning in late February, he said.