Who We Are
In 1954, Bartlett pear growers and processors in Oregon, Washington, and California created the Pacific Coast Canned Pear Service for the purpose of promoting market development for the consumption of canned Bartlett pears in the U.S. The commitment to fund marketing programs continued, and in 1996, the Pacific Northwest Canned Pear Service (PNCPS) was formed to promote Bartlett pears grown and processed in Oregon and Washington.
After generations of nurturing their orchards, today more than 1,400 family farms across Washington and Oregon provide pears to local processors and fund the PNCPS marketing programs.
The administrative operations of PNCPS are managed by the Washington State Fruit Commission. https://www.wastatefruit.com/
PNCPS is one of many USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) research and promotion oversight programs funded through assessments per ton on fruit delivered to local processors. AMS programs establish a framework for farmers to pool resources to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets, and conduct research and promotion activities.
What is a Canned Pear?
A canned pear is just that – a pear fresh from the orchard, individually picked by hand, ripened to sweet perfection, and then peeled, cored and poached right in the can. This ensures that the pear is preserved through classic canning techniques so it stays fresh and juicy. The pears are then halved, sliced or diced and packed in either juice, or syrups ranging from light to rich consistency, depending on customer preference. Each and every Pacific Northwest canned pear is ripe and ready to enjoy today or in the weeks ahead, which is why they are a top choice for schools, restaurants, and families who are looking for nutrition and convenience.
Fun fact: an heirloom pear variety, the Bartlett, is the only type of pear commercially canned in the USA.
Where it All Begins
The Columbia River cuts through eastern Washington before turning west toward the Pacific Ocean to form the state's boundary with Oregon. In both Oregon and Washington, high valleys near the Columbia River's broad channel provide the ideal growing conditions for Bartlett pears. The Bartlett thrives in the rich, loamy soil (a natural soil type with just the right mix of sand, silt, and clay), hibernating through sharp, cold winters and flourishing during long, warm summer days.
Pacific Northwest Canned Bartlett Pears support more than 1,400 family farms across Washington and Oregon who have been nurturing orchards with love for generations. Many pear growers in the region come from an established line of farmers, families that have tended their fruit trees for generations. Bartlett pear trees bear fruit for decades (some as long as 100 years), so Pacific Northwest pear growers harvest from trees planted by their parents and grandparents.
From Tree to Can
A Pacific Northwest Bartlett pear’s trip from tree to can kicks off with gorgeous pear blossoms on the tree in spring, followed by pollination and bud. Harvest begins in August and the canneries open for the high-volume production season that lasts through November.
In the orchard, Bartlett pear ripening is carefully watched so that as soon as the internal pressure of the pear is perfect, the fruit is harvested by hand and moved into cold storage to preserve its just-picked freshness. At the cannery, expert handling ensures that the pears ripen to ideal sweetness, flavor, and texture as they are ready for canning. Ripe pears are sorted by size and color, then peeled and cored in a single step.
All canned pears start as a half - perfect halves proceed to canning; while imperfect halves are diverted to the slice line. The slices are then sorted again, with flawless slices moving to the canning line, and blemished slices sent to the diced pear line. The most perfect dices are canned and any leftover pear pieces are saved for pear concentrate, a neutral juice that is a component in most commercial juice products. Any non-useable product is collected for cattle feed, so that all of the pear is used, ensuring minimal waste.
The pears are then added to cans along with the packing medium, such as pear juice, light or extra light syrup, or water.
Through experience, the growers and the canners keep their inventories at a balance with demand, so canned pear customers are assured of the finest, top quality pears in every can they buy.
When the canneries close at the end of the season, a skeleton staff spends the next months on maintenance and capital improvements, and the field superintendent negotiates with pear growers for the next crop year.
After just a few months from tree to can, the canned pears head to the marketplace, ready for hungry pear fans.
Pacific Northwest Canned Pear Suppliers
Pacific Northwest canned pears are available year-round from foodservice distributors and major retailers (be sure to specify USA-grown product for highest quality). K-12 schools and food banks can also source canned pears through the USDA’s Commodity Program. Always check the label to be sure they are USA-grown!