Shipment of Northwest pears on way to China

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) - The first shipment of Northwest pears is on its way to China under a new trade agreement.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the agreement was reached last summer and final terms were published last week.

A container ship is carrying as many as 3,600 boxes of pears. Each box weighs about 44 pounds.

The president and chief executive officer for the Pear Bureau Northwest in Portland, Kevin Moffitt, hopes the market in China will grow to as many as 300,000 boxes a year.

The Northwest exports about 7 million boxes of pears annually. Mexico, Canada and Russia are the top customers.

Washington is the nation's largest producer of pears with 48 percent of domestic production, according to the state Department of Agriculture.