Conference are slender, green, partially russetted pears with white flesh and a small core. They can be enjoyed as a crisp, crunchy fruit, or at any stage of softening, and are particularly irresistible with high levels of sweetness. Conference can often been quite bland, but, somehow still have a curious appeal. The ripened, softened flesh is quite smooth.
Conference have become the most common and popular of pears in the UK market. This is partly because they are a good pear for growers, being productive and reliable; but also as they can be stored for 10 to12 months without deterioration. They are therefore consistently available and relatively cheap.
Conference grown in warmer countries such as Italy and Spain have a more conical shape and tend to have higher levels of sweetness.
Origin: Conference was bred by nurseryman Thomas Francis Rivers at Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire, UK. First introduced in 1885.
Grown in: Conference is most commonly grown in north-west Europe, being the mainstay of pear production in England, Holland and Belgium. However, good production also exists in Spain and Italy, and there is some commercial production in South Africa becoming available.
Harvest & Availability: As Conference pears can be stored for 10 months or more, most of those sold in UK are home-grown or from Holland and Belgium. If stocks run short in late summer / early Autumn, imports from Spain and Italy will appear on shelves:
September to August: from England, Holland and Belgium
August: from South Africa
August to October: from Spain, Italy