NorgesGruppen, Bama and Gartnerhallen want consumers in Norway to eat more domestic produce, so have clubbed together to fund new research into the country’s pear production

Norway’s largest retailer NorgesGruppen wants to help the country’s consumers eat more domestically grown fruit and vegetables.

It recently teamed up with leading fresh produce importer Bama and producer Gartnerhallen to create Grofondet, which will use a combined Kr10m (€8.7m) fund to support growth in homegrown supply over the next decade.

This month, it announced the start of a new two-year project with a cooperative consultancy called Norsk Landbruksrådgiving (NLR) to increase consumption of Norwegian-grown pears in collaboration with Gartnerhallen’s growers.

Only a “modest volume” of pears is grown in Norway, spread over around 100 farms, according to Gartnerhallen.

Anne Kari Heen, NLR’s specialist coordinator, leads the pear project. She suggests the potential to increase its crop is huge – not only by replacing imports, but also by boosting consumption.

But part of that second challenge involves securing better quality production of he most commonly grown variety, Celina.

“This is a Norwegian-developed variety that has all achieved great success internationally,” she explains. “In Norway, however, we have struggled to match the same quality.”

That’s mainly the result of unstable and low sugar levels, measured on a scale called Brix. The project’s aim is to identify new ways to achieve predictable and consistent quality.

“We will look in particular at how different thinning regimes affect quality,” Heen continues. “We know that the sugar and mineral content is decisive for the taste experience of pears.”