English pears, considered by experts to be the best in the world, are to become commercially available on UK high streets all year round for the first time ever.
Normally English pears are only on sale for the UK season, which lasts from September until May.
But a breakthrough in storage technology has meant that pears can now be kept in prime condition for far longer.
And an exclusive trial of Conference pears at Tesco stores over the last three months has been such a success that the supermarket will from now on be able to exclusively offer all year round English pears.
Said Tesco pear buyer David Croxson: “Achieving all year round availability for UK grown pears has long been the Holy Grail for our home pear industry.
“It’s never been done on a commercial scale because the cost of the precision machinery needed to keep vast amounts of pears suitably chilled during storage has been prohibitive.
“But this major breakthrough by one English grower will send out a positive signal to the rest of the pear industry to show it can be done.
“And it will allow UK retailers to cut down on importing out-of-season pears from Holland and Spain.”
The breakthrough has been made by Tesco’s biggest pear supplier, Adrian Scripps Ltd, based in Kent.
They have invested in new £60,000 state of the art storage centre and machinery which allows pears to be monitored for perfection at every stage of the process - from picking to when they are brought to store.
The process involves checking pears for firmness and sugar levels while they are still on the tree to ensure they are at their optimum level for storage.
Explained James Simpson, managing director of Adrian Scripts Ltd: “The new machinery allows us to refine the storage process and make changes down to a tiny degree.
“We test the pears for sugar content, fruit firmness and starch levels three or four times a week while they are still on the tree before sending them to be stored.”
Once harvested, by hand, the pears are rapidly cooled, taking off their ‘field heat’ in under 48 hours before being placed in large 400kg bins with plastic lids which help retain the moisture during storage.
To ensure that the pears do not freeze, new monitoring equipment including CCTV, has been bought.