WORLD FRESH PEAR SITUATION
U.S. pear production in 1997/98 is forecast at 947,102 tons, 27 percent above last season's output and close to the 1994/95 record of 949,052 tons. Excellent spring and early summer weather in the three major U.S. producing states (Washington, California, and Oregon) have boosted U.S. production of good quality fruit in 1997/98. Washington, California, and Oregon account for more than 95 percent of total U.S. pear production.
U.S. pear exports in 1997/98 are forecast at a record 155,000 tons, 30 percent above last season's shipments and 8 percent above the previous record in 1995/96. Ample supplies of good quality fruit at more competitive prices is boosting U.S. pear exports in 1997/98. All Asian markets, except Taiwan, are showing increases over last season's shipments. According to industry data as of January 30, 1998, U.S. pear exports to Asia are up 10 percent compared to the same period last season. This is due both to a much larger U.S. crop and a decline in U.S. pear prices of 30 to 40 percent. Moreover, the U.S. pear industry's vulnerability to sales losses in Asia is not too large because most Asian markets are still in the development stage. In addition, the Asian markets take more U.S. specialty pears, such as the red varieties. These pears, and many of the other U.S. varieties imported, are sold in supermarkets to the upper income shoppers, who are less affected by higher prices than most of the population.
However, U.S. pear exports to the largest Asian market, Taiwan, are down 25 percent compared with the same period last year. The loss of importer confidence, due to the devaluation of the currency against the U.S. dollar, has slowed U.S. pear shipments to Taiwan this season.
Strong demand for U.S. pears is expected to continue in 1997/98 from major customers, such as Canada, Mexico, and Brazil. Increased sales have been reported in some EU countries, such as Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom and this trend is expected to continue.
Argentina's pear production in 1997/98 is forecast at 598,500 tons, up 4 percent from last season's output, due to favorable weather conditions in the main pear producing regions. Fruit is reported to be of very good quality.
Pear exports from Argentina in 1997/98 are forecast at 290,000 tons, slightly above 1996/97 shipments as a result of an anticipated larger crop. The Argentine fresh pear marketing season is year around with the bulk marketed February through April. Major customers are Brazil, the EU, and the United States.
Chilean pear production in 1997/98 is forecast at 257,000 tons, 2 percent above last season's crop. The increase in pear production is based on more trees coming into production. In addition, the Chilean pear crop is not expected to be adversely affected by the unusual weather conditions associated with the El Nino phenomenum.
Chile's pear exports in 1997/98 are forecast at 164,000 tons. The EU is Chile's largest export market, followed by the United States. During the last few years, sales to the Far East and Latin American markets have showed significant growth. Although there is no mandatory quality control program for pears, most producers have agreed to join voluntary quality control programs to increase average export prices and avoid the negative economic returns of the past.
(For further information on production and trade,
contact Samuel Rosa at 202-720-6086. For information on
marketing, contact James Carlson at 202-720-7931)