'God of Wealth' promotes US pears

Updated: 2015-02-23 12:38

By Li Jing(China Daily USA)

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'God of Wealth' promotes US pears

Fancy a pear from the god and goddness of wealth? US pear producers recently launched a promotion in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to take advantage of pear consumptions during the New Year. Provided to China Daily

As the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb 19, draws close, US pears are looking to cash in on the traditional shopping season in China.

A so-called "God of Wealth" US pears promotion was launched simultaneously in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou on Feb 1. The Pear Bureau Northwest office in China arranged delivery of a bulk of gods of wealth to 150 supermarkets and retail shops in the three cities to promote the US pears. US Northwest pear industry officials view China as a favorable market for the imported fruit.

At a supermarket in Beijing, a promoter dressed in costume as the god of wealth, who is plucked from Chinese mythology, encouraged consumers to taste the pears as he handed out auspicious red envelopes.

In Chinese culture, red is the most auspicious color. The US pear variety, Red Anjou, is distinctive red in color, different from the yellow color of Chinese pears. In addition, the Chinese name for "pears" reads like "fortune" in the Chinese language. These qualities make the US pears eye-catching for Chinese consumers at the festival.

"At the Lunar New Year, Chinese have a tradition to give presents to their friends and relatives. The US pears are a great fruit choice for Chinese consumers and I am confident about the popularity, " said Louis Ng, China representative at Pear Bureau Northwest, a nonprofit marketing organization that promotes fresh Western-style pears grown in Washington and Oregon states, which combined produce 84 percent of the US' pear crop.

Within five seasons, China is expected to rank in the top three export markets for US pears, said Ng in a previous interview with China Daily. After entering the Chinese market in January 2013, 460,000 boxes of US pears (10 kilograms per box) were imported to China last season, a season that stretched between September 2013 and April 2014, making it the sixth largest export market for US pears.

"The biggest challenge is the fact that US pear varieties are not well known to Chinese consumers or even many fruit importers and wholesalers," said Kevin Moffitt, president of Pear Bureau Northwest. "They are harvested when they are mature but not ripe. So consumers need to know how to select and ripen our pears to fully enjoy the sweet and juicy flavor."

Deng Zhiping, 60, who bought the fruit once before, said, “I don't know how to ripen them. Last time, the pears were ripened to rot and I had to throw them away. It is a pity as the price is higher than average Chinese pears."

The retail price of US pears at Yhd.com, a Shanghai-based online supermarket controlled by Wal-Mart Stores Inc, for example is around 38 yuan ($6).