PRESS RELEASE WENATCHEE, Wash. – Pear season is well underway and Stemilt Growers’ Operation Flavor program continues towards pear improvement with their most recent announcement: effective the 2018/19 crop year, Stemilt will no longer be using anti-ripening agents on any pear variety that comes through Stemilt’s doors. This bold industry unique move is aimed at the consumer.
“We have tested and decided that this season, all of our winter pear varieties will no longer be receiving anti-ripening treatments,” states Roger Pepperl, Stemilt marketing director. “We will continue to focus on providing the customers with an amazing eating experiencing by focusing on Operation Flavor’s only mission: flavor.”
Operation Flavor, a retail-trade-based program, launched in 2017. During the program’s first year, Stemilt’s pear team of pilots and promoters worked with various groups – from picking to packing – to create a plan to elevate pear flavors. In 2018, action took place, implementing improved pear practices to achieve full flavored pears that are ready to eat once they reach retail level.
“Pears can often present a challenge for the retailer as they are not ripe when the consumer is ready to make the purchase,” states Pepperl. “When consumers go to the store, they expect the fruit to be ready to eat as soon as they get home – not a week down the road. We found that anti-ripening agents contributed to a product that never reached its potential flavor and was not delivering the consumer with an amazing eating experience.”
Anti-ripening agents are used to slow down the fruit’s ability to age quickly. Stemilt’s Operation Flavor team discovered that after opening their rooms to pack, pears were not waking up to start the ripening process, even after warming and gassing procedures. With dry pears as a continuous result, the team tested and decided to pull anti-ripening agents altogether and place a larger emphasis on ripening rooms to achieve maximum flavor.
RipeRite Ready-to-Eat Pear Program sits within the Operation Flavor program and uses Thermal Tech Tarpless ripening rooms to ripen pears through the use of ethylene gas, a catalyst to initiate pear ripening. This process not only helps ripen pears (a similar process is used to ripen bananas and avocados) but it also increases flavor enzymes and keeps fruit close to their preferred pressures.
“Our RipeRite program helps the ripening process and allows us to pull anti-ripening agents entirely so we can provide customers with a flavorful Rushing Rivers® pear from Stemilt,” states Pepperl. “From this point forward, the consumer can recognize the brand and trust it, knowing they purchased a beautifully ripened, juicy, buttery smooth pear.”
Pepperl also explains that Stemilt’s partnered retailers who are focused on pears are now beginning to separate themselves from the market data of the competition. “Pear sales growth is needed to maintain the category,” says Pepperl. “Ready to eat dessert quality pears not only makes sense but is long overdue. Flavor is the only solution for pear retailers to succeed.”
Stemilt’s Rushing Rivers Pears is grown in two of the best pear locales in world: the Wenatchee and Entiat River Valleys. These two heritage growing regions are home to the majority of Stemilt pears. Known for the nutrient rich soils, cooler temperatures and great airflow, these two river valleys run parallel to each other in eastern Washington State.
“Rushing Rivers will always be a trustworthy brand for the consumer,” says Pepperl. “Between that trust and our consistent work and effort to fulfill Operation Flavor’s mission, we will provide an amazing eating experience for the consumer.”
Stemilt Growers is a leading tree fruit growing, packing and shipping company based in Wenatchee, Washington. Owned and operated by the Mathison family, Stemilt is the leading shipper of sweet cherries and one of the nation’s largest suppliers of organic tree fruits. Stemilt has also demonstrated a commitment to sustainable agriculture and social responsibility since 1989, when founder Tom Mathison launched the company’s Responsible Choice program. For more information about Stemilt, visit www.stemilt.com and follow Stemilt on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and You Tube.