New premium Sundown pear is a made-in-Canada success story

Agreement between Vineland Growers Cooperative and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre will make new pear available to growers in eastern Canada

VINELAND, ON, May 25, 2011 /CNW/ - Today Vineland Growers Cooperative (Cooperative) and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) announce a groundbreaking agreement for the production of a new variety of pear called the "Harovin Sundown Pear" in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.

The pear, developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, will be an outstanding addition to both the orchard and the retail shelf. A delicious variety with light green skin, firm flesh and a unique sweetness, it will be a guaranteed winner with consumers. Growers will also be interested in the pear's fire blight tolerance, winter hardiness, post harvest storage life, and yield characteristics.

In 2009, Vineland received global marketing and commercialization rights for the Sundown Pear and has since been exploring marketing opportunities in Canada and other regions around the world. This agreement with the Cooperative is the first production and harvesting agreement of its kind.

"We are delighted to strike this agreement with the Cooperative. To stay competitive, the Canadian industry needs to forge new types of marketing alliances that will secure premium markets and increase grower margins. The agreement between Vineland and the Cooperative will allow this to happen. The Cooperative is already a trusted marketer with well established retail agreements in eastern Canada and coordination for over 70% of the pear production in Ontario," said Jim Brandle, CEO Vineland.

In 2010, the Industry Fifteen Year Strategic Plan, sponsored by the Government of Ontario, clearly indicated the need to make changes to improve industry profitability and called on industry leaders to drive a new approach to providing the end consumer with premium quality fruit.

Initial research led by Vineland's Dr. Isabelle Lesschaeve in 2009 demonstrated that the Sundown Pear was received favourably in consumer trials.

Mike Ecker, of Vineland Growers Cooperative, commented, "I love this pear. Finally growers will have access to a new variety with excellent agronomic and consumer traits that was not only developed in Canada but shows every potential to compete successfully against imports. Our major retail partners are looking for new varieties of great tasting, locally-grown fruit, and we can deliver."

Growers interested in producing Sundown pears should contact the Cooperative directly. Sub-licensing opportunities are also available through Vineland for areas outside of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. Small volumes of pears will reach retail stores this summer.

About Vineland Growers Cooperative

The Cooperative was established in 1913 and is governed by a Board of Directors. The Cooperative provides member growers and non-member growers with a tender fruit and fresh market grape sales service selling fruit across Canada with a particularly strong presence in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. The Cooperative sells over 55% of the Ontario tender fruit crop and is the major tender fruit packer in eastern Canada. www.vinelandgrowers.com

About Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre is an independent, not-for-profit organization that was created to be a world-class centre for horticultural science and innovation. In its capacity to enable and foster relationships with industry, academia and government, Vineland works to deliver premium product and production innovations. Vineland brings a global perspective to the Canadian horticulture industry and offers a broad range of lasting benefits to stakeholders both locally and internationally. Aligned with industry needs, Vineland's research priorities and outcomes are focused on the growth of the entire horticulture industry. Vineland is funded in part by Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. www.vinelandresearch.com

SOURCE Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

For further information: Vineland Research and Innovation Centre: Isabel Dopta, Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, Isabel.dopta@vinelandresearch.com, p: (905) 562-0320 x791, c: (519) 993-1192

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Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

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