ABOUT PIQA®

PIQA® is the family brand for a new, exciting and innovative range of interspecific pear cultivars that have been bred with the aim of rejuvenating the international fresh pear business. These conventionally bred new fruits bring together the stronger and often more complex flavours of European pears with the texture of Japanese varieties and the shelf-life, and storage capabilities of Chinese types.

PIQA® brand fruits are an entirely new consumer range of fresh fruit, with unique and striking skin colours and shapes that are crisp, juicy, tasty and have the same ready-to-eat convenience of apples, plus exceptional storage and shelf-life.

Piqa fruits in various shapes and sizes

 

Where have they come from?

Plant & Food Research logoPrevar contracts with the New Zealand-based Plant & Food Research pipfruit breeding programme to breed new apples and pears. The primary objective is to produce innovative, high-quality cultivars with exceptional appearance and eating quality, with good storage and shelf-life, and that can be grown in a sustainable production system. It was Plant & Food’s foresight that initiated this novel breeding endeavour in the mid-1980s with Prevar adopting the breeding strategy in 2004 when it began its operations.

 

Where does the PIQA® trade mark name originate?

The PIQA® trademark is a made-up word; a brand name that succinctly captures the key brand message, that this new fruit range delivers an exotic and delightful eating experience. Exotic from the fusion of the best of European pear traits with the best of Asian pear traits, and delightful through the crisp and juicy texture coupled with novel flavours. The addition of a short suffix to the PIQA® trademark is used to identify a specific cultivar within the PIQA® family; for example, PIQA®BOO®.

 

What benefits do these new cultivars offer?

Most European pears require exposure to cold temperatures after harvest followed by warm conditioning before being ready to eat. When ripe they have a soft, melting or buttery texture and often characteristically strong flavours, but tend to have short shelf-life. In contrast, Chinese and Japanese pears can be eaten from the tree and have crisp textures, but mostly mild flavours. Chinese pears used in the breeding programme have a coarser texture than Japanese pears, but superior cold storage and shelf-life performance. These new fruits combine the best traits of those three species to produce fruit that can be ready to eat at harvest without conditioning after cold storage, and which can still develop strong flavours.

 

In summary, PIQA® fruits are differentiated from European pears by:

  • Wide range of fruit shapes and sizes
  • Crisp texture
  • More complex varietal and sweet flavours with secondary flavours
  • Lower susceptibility to skin marking
  • Ripeness, convenience and certainty (the major reason consumers say they do not purchase European pears)
  • Much better storage and shelf life
 

Why the focus on skin colour and clean appearance?

various shapes and sizes of pearsFruit appearance is critical in the modern marketplace and new cultivars need to be both attractive and distinctive to compete successfully. There is a focus on combining attractive colours and shapes with high eating quality. Furthermore, pears are often an impulse purchase, suggesting cosmetic qualities such as shape, skin colour and being blemish free are a major factor in triggering purchase decisions.

PIQA® fruits have a low susceptibility to handling marks known as scuffing, which can affect pears’ appearance during harvesting, packing and shipping, and be promulgated by consumers touching the fruit – especially if packed following cold storage. Scuff resistance has been identified and incorporated throughout the breeding programme.

 

What improvements can these novel fruits provide in terms of convenience and eating quality?

A strong emphasis has been placed on combining crisp and juicy flesh texture with desirable flavours, with importance placed on selecting crunchy or fine flesh textures incorporated from Chinese and Japanese pears respectively.

Many PIQA® fruits have interesting and novel flavours, some of which have not been found in pears before. Flavour is expressed at two levels. Many selections have a characteristic European pear flavour. After a period of cool storage different secondary flavours are also found including: tropical fruit, tropical pear, melon, nut, aniseed, coconut and plum. Acid levels are generally low or balanced with high sweetness. These attributes are often maintained over a long cold air storage and shelf-life; for some, up to six months storage and possibly beyond, followed by three weeks’ shelf-life.