Northwest pears

Northwest Pears is switching its focus to other markets such as Asia

Pear Bureau Northwest shipped its lowest volume to Europe in years last year, possibly since the 1930s according to Jeff Correa, who blamed the European Commission’s reduction in the permitted maximum residue level of diphenylamine (DPA) for the fall. Last season the bureau downsized its European programme and consolidated it under a single pan-European plan. Correa warned that unless the commission reviews its decision, there may be no USA Pear-branded fruit available in Europe in 2014/15.

“The only activities we conducted in the 2013/14 season were in Sweden, and if there’s no change on the MRL of DPA we may not be conducting any activities at all in Europe,” he told Fruitnet, adding that the EU regulations do not just impact US shippers, but also those in Southern Hemisphere producing countries.

Instead, the organisation will focus its efforts in other markets. USA Pears are sold in 36 countries outside of Europe – and Latin America, Asia and the Middle East have shown significant growth in recent years.

Correa pointed out that the DPA issue is not the sole reason for the fall in US pear sales in Europe. “The increase in European pear production over the last 10 years has also impacted on the US deal. And then you can add the lack of synergy between food safety programmes, restrictions on the use of melamine (an ingredient in the waxes applied to apples and pears in the US), and now the DPA issue,” he said. “Also, Europe doesn’t pay the prices that we can get for our pears in other markets. It’s funny that European consumers will pay a lot of money for cars and clothes, but not for premium fresh produce.”