YAKIMA, Wash. — Del Monte will pay Pacific Northwest pear growers an additional $28 per ton for top grade Bartlett for canning next fall to stay competitive with the fresh market.
The voluntary bonus means growers will get $300 per ton for No. 1 Bartlett, up from the contract amount of $272, said Jay Grandy, manager of the Washington-Oregon Canning Pear Association in Yakima. Other grades will be adjusted as called for in the contract, he said.
“Absolutely, there’s no question. It’s good news for growers,” Grandy said. The Yakima area is a heavy producer of Bartlett for canning.
The other two Northwest canners have confirmed they will pay competitive prices in 2014, he said. Those are The Neil Jones Food Co. (Northwest Packing) which cans pears in Vancouver, Wash., and Seneca Foods, Marion, N.Y., which owns and operates the former Independent Foods plant near Sunnyside. Del Monte, of San Francisco, has a plant in Yakima.
The 2014 crop is the final year of a three-year contract between the three processors and the association on behalf of growers. Del Monte has indicated it will negotiate a new contract with the association in the spring of 2015, Grandy said.
Bartlett sold in the fresh market has been increasing for a number of years while decreasing in the processed or canned market, Grandy said. The fresh market increased by 8,000 tons while the process market declined 10,500 tons in 2013, he said.
Carryover of canned pears from one season to the next was the lowest in many years this past June, Grandy said. As a result of lighter U.S. production, imports from China increased from about 1.2 million, 22-kilogram cases in 2012 to 1.6 million in 2013, he said.
The Washington-Oregon Pear Canning Association will hold its annual meeting at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Yakima, Feb. 27.