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Angelys, a "royal" pear

Bred by INRA in Angers, Angelys is a winter pear variety that was registered in the French catalogue of plant species in 1998. It is characterised by a fine and juicy texture that melts in the mouth, as well as remarkably good storage ability. Warmly welcomed by consumers since 2002, Angelys was the result of concerted efforts from all members of the sector (breeders, nurserymen, producers, marketing, etc.) who, since 2003 have adopted a "club" approach. Major marketing efforts have accompanied the development of this variety in facing its greatest challenge: reinvigorating the consumption of pears in France.

The Angelys pear. © INRA, Marcel Le Lezec
Updated on 10/11/2016
Published on 09/22/2016

Angelys owes its name to the town of its birth (Angers) and the emblem of the Kings of France (the lily or lys) under whose reigns the pear was always considered as the fruit of the ”Château” (of the Loire valley).

Angelys combines the best qualities of its parents: the hardiness of Doyenné d'Hiver (a thick, rough and protective skin) and the gustatory qualities of Doyenné de Comice (a fine, flavoursome and juicy flesh). Harvested at around 20-25 September (depending on the year), Angelys pears are then placed in cold rooms and allowed to mature. They are then ready for eating from mid-December to the end of June.

Thirty-five years of research by INRA in Angers

Launched in 1963 at the Fruit Arboriculture Research Station* in Angers, the Angelys breeding programme chose as its main objectives the development of a new, late-ripening variety that would offer good storage ability, high yields and a good gustatory quality for its fruits. This research programme started with the crossing of 12 varieties of pears, giving rise to 64 progenies. Of the 11,000 hybrids arising from these crosses, experiments were performed on 250 of them in Angers, in collaboration with the CTIFL (Technical Centre for the Fruit and Vegetable Industry) for the south-east and south-west of France, and regional experimental units. Fifteen were then analysed in more detail in order to study yields and tree behaviour as a function of regions and climatic conditions, etc. Finally, just one of the hybrids was chosen for registration in the Official Catalogue in 1998: Angelys.
The result of a natural cross between the Doyenné d'Hiver and Doyenné du Comice varieties, Angelys produces fine russet fruits, and reaches its optimum potential when produced in the northern half of France. Its strong skin means it resists handling well and it exhibits excellent storage ability at ambient temperature.

The French pear market is stagnating

With an annual pear production of 217,000 tonnes in 2009 (source: Agrimer), France ranks seventh in Europe. French pear orchards have decreased in surface area because of the crisis in the apple-pear sector and notably as a result of total clearing operations when farmers ceased their activities and apples were the principal crop of the orchard.

However, since its introduction onto the market early this century, Angelys has become the focus of planting dynamics in French pear orchards. In seven years, 215 hectares have been planted in France, mainly in the Loire Valley and the north, which thus accounts for 3% of all French orchards. It was also planted between 2004 and 2007 in Spain (19 hectares) and Italy (14 hectares). 2005-2006 provided an opportunity to test its market receptivity (1200 tonnes produced). After a positive initial assessment, Angelys started its second campaign, but this time with larger volumes: approximately 2500 tonnes were put on the French market in 2006-2007, and were also exported to the UK and Belgium. For the 2007-2008 season, the harvest is close on 3000 tonnes.

In a stagnant market, this pear with remarkable gustatory and storage qualities seems capable of reinvigorating consumption of this fruit. It has attracted numerous marketing agencies, which have recently included Les Coteaux Nantais from Vertou (organic farming). However, their number has been limited deliberately to four in France (three for conventional products and one organic) to allow a concentration of supply and to encourage the emergence of Angelys on the French market.

The Angelys initiative: an original approach, the commitment of an entire sector

Organised by the Section Nationale Poire (National Pear Section), which brings together all Producer Organisations (OP) for French pears, the Angélys initiative federates all those involved in the sector: producers and their OP, INRA and its subsidiary Agri Obtentions, nurserymen grouped within CEP innovation, the CTIFL and regional experimental units, the Section Nationale Poire and committees for producing areas, and finally marketing organisations (Dorléane, BVL, Valois Fruits and Coteaux Nantais for France, Spreafico for Italy and Fri Fruit for Spain).

This association, set up in 2003, coordinates management of the launching and exploitation of Angelys, and controls compliance with the production, storage and packaging specifications it lays down. The combined skills of these different partners in the sector guarantee a homogeneous quality for the products thus put on the market.

*The Fruit Arboriculture Research Station is now the INRA-INH-University of Angers Joint Research Unit for Genetics and Horticulture (GenHort).

Contact(s) partner(s):
Agri Obtentions, service commercial (01 30 48 23 00)
Other contact(s):
Association ANGELYS (02 41 37 53 75)
Associated Centre(s):
Pays de la Loire