Demand for pears grows overseas
Russia and India are growth markets for Pacific Northwest pears.
At more than 500,000, 44-pound boxes of pears, Russia was the Northwest's fourth-largest export market in 2009, said Jeff Correa, international marketing director for the Pear Bureau Northwest.
About 60 percent is imported at St. Petersburg and 40 percent at Vladivostok, he said. There's room to push into the interior and reach 650,000 boxes in the next three to five years, he said.
"We see more retailers (from Russia and India) entering the market, and those there now are expanding and improving distribution centers and logistics," Correa said
India is the eighth-largest export market at 130,000 boxes and may reach 200,000 boxes in the next three to five years despite a 33 percent tariff, he said.
If the tariff were eliminated or reduced the market could really take off and perhaps it would be feasible to export lower-grade instead of top-grade only pears there, Correa said.
The U.S. has no free-trade agreement with India and it's probably not a priority of the Obama administration any time soon, he said.
-- Dan Wheat