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The pear harvest is officially underway in Washington state, and Stemilt Growers is enthusiastic about the high-quality pears that will fill store shelves this season. In addition to consumer favorites such as Bartlett and d’Anjou, the supplier expects specialty varieties, like Asian pears, to provide retailers with a sales boost this fall. Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt, said Asian pears comprise a large group of pear varieties that have the same crunch, shape and juicy qualities as apples, with the rich, floral-like taste of pears. “Even though they make up a small percentage of what looks to be a near-record Northwest pear crop, Asian pears are a unique, kid-friendly item ideal for retail promotions during the fall months,” according to Pepperl. With nearly two-thirds of Stemilt’s Asian pears grown organically, the majority of its crops this year will be branded under the Artisan Organics banner and packed in Kraft-based cartons, which hold either one or two-layers of “socked” Asian pears. For more information, visit http://www.stemilt.com.