(July 14) With pears, a late summer favorite, you can build profits by reaching beyond bartletts to spotlight the bosc and anjou varieties, as well as comice, seckel and red.

Jay Schneider, assistant sales manager for Acme Markets Inc., a chain of 136 stores based in Philadelphia, says he features a variety of pears, starting with California bartletts in summer and expanding into bosc, anjou, comice and red pears from California and the Northwest.

Last year, Acme Markets conducted a tie-in promotion with California bartlett pears and the Philadelphia Zoo. Customers received free admission to the zoo by showing their receipt for purchasing California pears. Pictures of lions, tigers and bears were featured in the chain’s print advertising to call attention to the promotion.

Schneider displays several varieties of pears on a 6- to 10-foot dry table. The display gets larger as the season progresses.

Acme promotes pears at least every other week from the end of August until after Christmas, selling them for 99 cents per pound, compared with a regular price of $1.29 to $1.49 per pound.

Pear sales increase 6% to 10% when the fruit is featured on a dedicated end cap. Bartletts are the best sellers, followed by anjous and then the bosc variety.

For the past two years, Adrian Uribe, produce manager at the single Valley IGA Plus store in Waterford, Calif., has offered his customers something unusual in the pear category — ya pears. A Japanese variety, ya pears are similar in size to the anjou, have white flesh and are “real crisp and juicy,” he says.

They range in price from 79 cents a pound to $1.29 per pound, and Uribe says he samples them to encourage more shoppers to give them a try. Last year, he sold about 20 cases during their season from December to late March.

Ya pears are featured on a table with other varieties like bartletts, bosc, comice, red bartletts, Asian pears and anjous. Each variety is given a foot of space from top to bottom. One variety generally is featured on ad each week. Pears usually account for about 2% of department sales, but that figure can swell to 5% when they are on special.

Dave Manus, produce supervisor at Vic’s IGA Market, a group of three stores based in Sacramento, Calif., expands his pear display from 3 feet wide to 4 feet during the late summer months, when several varieties are available.

During the spring he features four varieties — bosc, anjou, red pears and packams. He’ll add bartletts when they become available in late July, and they will be his top-selling variety.

Although summer sales generally remain steady from year to year, Manus says pear sales have increased 10% to 15% in winter, thanks to greater availability of Chilean bartletts.

The Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore., offers point-of-purchase materials to help promote pear purchases, says Dennis James, director of marketing.

The pear bureau has a set of channel cards that identifies pears by variety and summarizes nutrition information. There also are 12- and 15-inch square variety display charts that list usage ideas and the key attributes of pears and encourage consumers to “check the neck” to tell whether a pear is ripe.

The pear bureau offers lots of recipes, ripening bags and backroom support materials on handling, storage and merchandising pears. The bureau also is developing a Web site retailers can link to that is geared to the growing number of consumers looking for information about pears.

James says retailers can enhance the sales potential of pears by offering the fruit in various stages of ripeness for consumption for tonight or in a few days.

The California Pear Advisory Board, Sacramento, also encourages merchandising of ripe pears and offers a 7.5- by 11-inch sign that is half green and half gold to get across the “enjoy now and enjoy later” message, says Christine Aguiar, marketing and promotions manager.

The board provides recipe and usage ideas and an 11- by 15-inch conditioning and handling poster that shows eight varieties of pears and tells when they are available.

Aguiar says 70% of pear purchasers prefer yellow pears to green ones, and she says pears definitely are an impulse item. Only 16% of shoppers plan to buy pears before they get to the produce department, she says.