The pear fruit generally have the distinctive ‘pear shape’, technically referred to as pyriform (a narrow stem area and full bulbous-like base); however, the nashi generally has a more spherical shape.
Skin colour of the fruit varies between varieties and may be smooth yellow, green or red, or may exhibit colours ranging from tan to brown and a rough texture. Both the European and Asian pear types grow easily and produce sweet and juicy fruit.
Pears are also referred to as a pome fruit which is characterised by a core of several small seeds surrounded by a tough membrane. All pome fruits are members of the plant family Rosaceae and include apples and quinces.
Australians consume around 3.2kg of fresh pears per person per year with about 60% of Australian pear production consumed as fresh fruit and most of the remainder used for processing into juice and other products. Pears are generally grown in the same regions as apples and have similar agronomic requirements. Pears of one variety or another are generally available throughout the year, with the majority of varieties available from March to November.
The pear industry is relatively stable in Australia, with almost all of production consumed domestically. Combined, the apple and pear industry is the largest fruit industry in Australia. Australia is a minor exporter of pears with around 16.5% of production exported overseas to New Zealand, Indonesia, Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore. The industry hopes to grow the export of pears to 20%.
The representative body for pear growers in Australia is Apple and Pear Australia Limited who provide support to growers through providing tools and market opportunities to assist industry growth and increase competitiveness of growers.
Horticulture Innovation Australia invests in and manages research, development and marketing programs for pears. The pear industry is levied and HAL receives matched funding from the Commonwealth Government up to 0.5% of the industry’s GDP or the industry contribution which goes to funding for research and development.
Facts and figures
- Australia produces on average just over 100,000 tonnes of pears a year with almost all of this consumed domestically
- The most commonly grown variety of pear in Australia is ‘William’s Bon Chrétien’ which is used mainly for processing
- Intensive orchard systems require planning and can have extensive establishment costs but can reach first commercial harvest within 2-3 years
- Orchard grown fruit require reliable access to good quality water for irrigation
The majority of production is in Victoria which produces about 89% of total production, followed by South Australia at about 5%, Tasmania at 4%, and New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia produce about 1% each.
The number of pear growers has declined since 2000 which is believed to indicate a consolidation where smaller scale growers are leaving the industry and medium and large scale growers are taking over their production.