California pear farmers demonstrated strong support for the state marketing order program representing pears in a recent grower referendum conducted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. With 95.24 percent of the voters representing 97.35 percent of the volume in favor of continuation, the California Pear Advisory Board will remain in operation for at least another five years.
“Last year some drastic changes were made to the California Pear Advisory Board’s programs,” said Chris Zanobini, president of CPAB. “Clearly the change was reflective of industry needs and this recent referendum indicates the new direction of the Board has widespread support throughout the industry.”
Zanobini explained that under the new structure, the Board discontinued its retail merchandising program and is now leaving promotions conducted directly with grocery stores up to individual grower-shippers. The Board continues to fund production research and also provides marketing and public relations support for the industry. Individual operations have the ability to access these tools for use in their own sales efforts.
“Projects like the very successful “Pears Care” breast-cancer awareness campaign in conjunction with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure have continued to be funded and supported by the California Pear Board,” explained Zanobini. “In addition, the Board is embarking on innovative programs to foster environmentally-friendly farming practices among California pear farmers and is addressing the concept of sustainability now at the forefront of issues faced by retailers and suppliers around the world.”
Zanobini explained that industry assessments indicate a very strong culture of sustainability exists among California pear farmers. A survey  of California pear industry sustainability practices conducted in 2011 by SureHarvest, Inc. shows that California pear farmers have an exceptionally high level of adoption of sustainable farming practices. The report shows that virtually all farmers report they employ pest control advisors to scout orchards for pests before making any decisions to treat with pesticides, 97 percent use pheromone traps for monitoring key pear pests and 91 percent use pheromones to control pests. The full report can be found at www.calpear.com  along with a video which summarizes the report.
“The Board is preparing for the coming pear season and staff is working to develop new programs to support industry needs,” said Zanobini. “This vote of confidence among industry members is a great sign that the Board is moving in the right direction and that we are still going strong.”
Zanobini noted the Board will continue to provide the trade with crop estimates and harvest timing information as the season approaches. He urged anyone interested in learning more about the California Pear Advisory Board to contact them directly or visit their website.