Stemilt Will No Longer Use Anti-Ripening Agents on Its Pears
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
WENATCHEE, WA - Pear season is afoot, and Stemilt continues to work towards pear improvement with its Operation Flavor program and a new announcement. In a move aimed at the consumer, the company will cease the use of any anti-ripening agents on any pear variety that comes through Stemilt’s doors, effective the 2018/19 crop year.
“We have tested and decided that this season, all of our winter pear varieties will no longer be receiving anti-ripening treatments,” stated Roger Pepperl, Marketing Director. “We will continue to focus on providing the customers with an amazing eating experience by focusing on Operation Flavor’s only mission: flavor.”
Though it sounds like some sort of espionage mission, Operation Flavor is a retail-trade-based program that was launched by the company in 2017. Throughout the program’s inaugural year, Stemilt’s team of pilots and promoters collaborated with various groups—from picking to packing—to create a plan to elevate pear flavors. 2018 was a year for action, as the company implemented improved pear practices to ensure full-flavored pears that are ready to eat as soon as 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,” said Pepperl, in a press release. “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 intended to slow down the fruit’s ability to age quickly, but can impact flavor. Stemilt’s Operation Flavor team discovered that after opening their rooms to pack, the pears were not waking up to start the ripening process, even after warming and gassing procedures. Dry pears were the unfortunate result, so the team tested and ultimately decided to pull anti-ripening agents entirely, and instead place a larger emphasis on ripening rooms to achieve maximum flavor.
Within the Operation Flavor program sits the company’s RipeRite™ Ready-to-Eat Pear Program, which uses Thermal Tech Tarpless® ripening rooms to ripen pears through the use of ethylene gas—a catalyst to kick-start pear ripening. The process helps ripen pears (a similar process is used to ripen bananas and avocados) and increases flavor enzymes to keep 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,” said 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 went on to explain that Stemilt’s retail partners are now beginning to separate themselves from the market data of the competition's pear programs.
“Pear sales growth is needed to maintain the category,” commented Pepperl. “Ready-to-eat dessert-quality pears not only makes sense but are long overdue. Flavor is the only solution for pear retailers to succeed.”
According to the press release, Rushing Rivers Pears are grown in two of the best pear locations in the world, the Wenatchee and Entiat River Valleys. The majority of Stemilt’s pears are grown in those two heritage growing regions. The two river valleys—running parallel to each other in eastern Washington State—are well known for their nutrient rich soils, cooler temperatures, and great airflow.
“Rushing Rivers will always be a trustworthy brand for the consumer,” said 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.”
Will this bold new direction in pear-growing pay off for the company? AndNowUKnow will keep you updated on how everything shakes out.