General market overview
Pears have been grown in China as far back as 6,000 years ago. At that time, it was a small, firm and sour-tasting fruit. Following selection and grafting by the Italians and French during the Renaissance, pears became the sweet, juicy fruit we now know. Today, more than 2000 varieties have been identified. Global production stands at 22.7 million tons, representing a harvest of 720kg of pears per second. China is in a unique position, responsible for 58% of this production.
The French consumed more than 85,000 tons of pears in 2013. They are the third most consumed fruit in France after apples and oranges. Almost 75% of French household purchased pears in 2013.
The favorite varieties in France:
Pears are available all year round and can be categorized by period of harvest.
William is the most consumed variety in France. It is also the most suitable for preserving and distillation.
Guyot, also known as “Dr Jules Guyot” in tribute to the French physician, is an early variety which can be picked green and left to mature indoors.
Autumn and winter pears:
Conference owes its name to the prize it won at the National British Pear Conference of 1885. Juicy and sweet, it is ideal for eating fresh.
Doyenné du Comice is the third most consumed variety in France behind the Guyot. The quality of Comicepears grown in Savoie was recognized with an IGP (protected geographical indication) in 1996.
The Passe-Crassane pear can be recognized by the cap of red wax on its stalk. In the past, this was done to slow its ripening. Overtaken by modern conservation techniques, the red wax is now added as a distinctive feature.
The Angélys is the youngest French pear variety. Created in the early 21st century, it already accounts for 2% of crops by surface area – evidence that it has proved popular with both producers and consumers.
Sweet Sensation is a pear which resembles a red apple. This variety, of Dutch origin, with sweet white flesh first appeared on stalls in France in 2009.
With production of 148,938 tons of pears in 2013, France ranks 14th in the world and sixth in Europe behind Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal.
Pears rank third in French fruit production, behind France behind apples and peaches/nectarines.
The PACA region produces more than 47% of the national volume of pears, followed by the Rhône-Alpes region with 14%.
The William and Guyot varieties account for more than half of French pear orchards.
Did you know ?
The Sun King’s favorite!
The pear obtained its royal warrant in the 17th century thanks to La Quintinie, the gardener to the Sun King. In the king’s vegetable garden in Versailles, he developed varieties with evocative names such as “Cuisse-Madame”, “Frangipane” and Louis XIV’s favorite, “Le Bon Chrétien”. Today, this garden-museum grows and preserves more than 130 varieties of French pears.