Even the weather cooperated on February 23, 2013. With a brilliant blue sky overhead and bright sunlight streaming into the warehouse, the first shipment of pears grown in the United States and destined for the Chinese market arrived in Dalian, China.
The three containers of pears did not slip into the port of Dalian, a city of over six million people located in Liaoning Province in the northeast of China, unnoticed. Instead, a crowd of onlookers consisting of journalists, invited guests, U.S. and Chinese officials, all gathered to witness the first pallets of Red and Green Anjou pears from Ft. Hood, Oregon being offloaded.
The container door swung open to the sound of applause. As the U.S. and Chinese officials signaled their pleasure at the arrival with clapping hands, a party started–complete with music, balloons, confetti, and gold glitter. This arrival of 6,615 boxes of USA pears in Dalian, worth over $100,000, was more than a celebration of a single consignment of fruit, but rather represented exciting new market opportunities for pear producers in Oregon as well as California and Washington.
This event was the culmination of many years of negotiation between Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) officials and the Chinese authorities. It is projected that China will become one of the top five export destinations for USA pears within the next two seasons, becoming a market worth tens of millions of dollars in U.S. agricultural exports every year, and generating hundreds of new jobs in the Pacific Northwest. Chinese consumers will also have another high quality American product available to them as they fill their grocery baskets.