As we enter into the season of new crop pears, it becomes very easy to let the classic pear varieties such as Bartlett, Bosc, and D'anjou take center stage. This limelight is justifiable as these pears are typically the leading sellers and their popularity is what has landed pears on the map as an Autumn favorite. But amidst this sea of popularity is the Asian pear; not nearly as well known but perhaps one of the finest eating pears of the season. As retailers one of the enduring challenges is getting shoppers to buy the product that you know is superb even though it is typically not anywhere near being on their shopping list. Often the best way of getting your own customers excited about a product is to simply be excited about the very item yourself. Excitement is contagious and this is certainly true when it comes to the flavor of a great piece of fruit. As you are preparing your customers for this exciting fruit, here are some things to keep in mind that may be of help as you share your enthusiasm:
Origin and Varieties - Asian pears were originally from China and Japan. The are also referred to as Apple Pears or Chinese Pears. Typically the pears with lighter yellow/green skins originated in China, and the darker, russeted brown skins had their origin in Japan. The main varieties are Hosui (golden russeted brown skin), Kosui (golden russetted skin), Shinsui (russetted brown skin), Shinseiki (yellow skin), and Nijiseiki (yellow/green skin).
Flavor and Selection - Asian pears are crunchy, juicy, and sweet - often exactly what we are looking for in a piece of fruit. Unlike other pear varieties, once they are harvested the inside flesh does not ripen and become softer. Whereas most other pear varieties are best eaten when they have ripened to their perfect level of "softness", Asian pears are typically eaten when firm.
Merchandising and Display - Most produce departments treat Asian pears as a specialty item. Often you will see bountiful pear and apple displays, with a little basket of Asian pears tucked off to the side. If Asian pears are ever going to become a more popular item in mainstream produce, the first step will need to be an extension of the real estate they typically occupy. Be generous with your display space. The beautiful russetted color of an Asian pear next to a red apple creates a stunning effect. Give them an entire row; allow them to be seen and you will probably notice an immediate jump in your Asian pears sales.
Sampling - Always the best way to get anyone excited about the flavor of a fruit is to actually get the product into their mouths. The unique taste of an Asian pear must truly be sampled to be appreciated. Once a shopper has actually tried an Asian pear, the likelihood is very strong that they will not leave your store without at least one pear making its way into their shopping cart.