(July 22) Mexico now is the largest export market for California bartlett pears, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service.

About two-thirds of all exports travel south of the border, with the remaining exports traveling to Canada and Brazil.

“Size is an important consideration in exports,” said Amy Kilbridge, marketing manager for Bryant Christie Inc., Seattle. Bryant Christie provides export program advice to the Sacramento-based California Pear Advisory Board. Kilbridge said exports are increasing as a percentage of the total harvest.

“They were 20% of fresh packed fruit in 2000,” Kilbridge said, “and reached 27% in 2001.”


The Pear Advisory Board had a pear tour for Mexican wholesalers and retailers June 26-29 to strengthen relationships at the buyer level and improve retailer information on ripening. Plans include the development of in-place education and training seminars that could take place at the local retailer or distributor level.

Chris Zanobini, executive director of the board, said the board is working on other Latin American markets, such as Costa Rica and Guatemala.

The board also promotes heavily in Canadian markets with a merchandising specialist in Calgary and another in Toronto.

“Montreal and Toronto are very supportive markets,” Zanobini said, “and we’re seeing good results in the British Columbia and Alberta.”


Kilbridge said she expects export sales to reach the 1 million 36-pound box level this year.

“But size is an important factor in the export business,” Kilbridge said. “Montreal and Mexico prefer the smaller size fruit (120-150 count per 36-pound box) while the rest of Canada prefers larger sizes (90-100 count).”

Zanobini said the California deal should yield steady volumes until it reaches a peak in August.