Ready-to-eat pears rare in the valley where they're grown

Current shipping methods make it hard to deliver fresh, sweet Okanagan-grown pears directly to local supermarkets, the provincial government says.

Delivering perfectly ripened pears into the hands of consumers is the aim of a Kelowna company that has received a $130,000 government grant.

Consolidated Fruit Packers will use the money, from the provincial Agri-Innovation program, to try to solve a problem that hampers the timely delivery of fresh pears to grocery stores.

“This provides us with the opportunity to push the boundaries in agri-tech as we create a better eating experience for consumers with ready-to-eat, delicious local pears,” Gord Morrison of CFP says in a government release.

Unlike other fruits, pears do not ripen on the tree. They need time for sugars to develop off the branch, which makes it rare for local residents to enjoy an Okanagan-grown pear, the Ministry of Agriculture says.

Consolidated Fruit Packers, which works with independent Valley farmers to also distribute cherries, blueberries and apples to market, hopes to develop an optimal form of packaging for pears so the fruit is sweet and juicy when offered in local stores.

The company, based in the Landmark business centre, also received a $190,000 grant under the same program to buy a high-quality blueberry grading machine.

The grants are among 12 projects to receive more than $1 million in funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a joint federal-provincial initiative.

A Penticton company, Howling Bluff Estate Winery, received almost $50,000 to “study the feasibility of a flex cube, an alternative storage container that could replace traditional oak barrels to reduce the cost of producing wine,” the government release states.

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