21 Maret 2011

An Analysis of the Importance of Ripeness to Consumers in the United States When Making a Purchase Decision for Peaches, Plums, and Nectarines

An Analysis of the Importance of Ripeness to Consumers in the United
States When Making a Purchase Decision for Peaches, Plums, and

Marianne McGarry Wolf, Adam J. Martin and Tina Cagianut
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, California

Keywords: Stone Fruit, Ripeness, Ripe Label, Peaches, Plums, Nectarines

This research examines consumers’ purchasing behavior in the stone fruit
market. The most important factors that influence the decision to purchase peaches,
plums, and nectarines are: that the product is safe to eat, healthy, sweet, it looks
good, is a good value for the money, firmness, and ripeness. Consumers are
unfamiliar with brix, acidity, and pressure concerning stone fruit. Simulated test
marketing was used to expose consumers to peaches, plums, and nectarines with a
Tested Ripe Label. The label had a positive impact on purchase interest, fifty-four
percent of consumers indicated that they would probably or definitely purchase
more stone fruit with the tested ripe label. The consumers that indicated an increase
in purchase interest were profiled. These consumers find it more difficult to
determine ripeness of peaches, plums and nectarines. Those that would purchase
more stone fruit with a tested ripe label are more likely to purchase a different fruit
if the grocery store does not have their desired fruit or if it does not appear ripe.
Further, they are likely to purchase a higher quality stone fruit if it were more

Consumers are drawn to both appearance and merchandising of stone fruit.
According to Fresh Trends 2002, stone fruit purchasers would like to have the ability to
purchase fruit based on specific ripeness. Also, consumers perceive branded products as
safer, fresher and of higher quality than non-branded products. Some of the most frequent
consumer complaints heard in the retail produce department concern the inconsistent
quality of fruit available (Crisosto and Day, 1995). A frequent consumer complaint is that
the fruit available for retail sale is often dry and flavorless while another complaint
indicated fresh fruit supplied had inconsistent quality (Fresh Trends 2002). The two main
reasons for low consumption of stone fruits are post harvest internal breakdown of the
fruit (i.e. flesh mealiness, browning and lack of flavor) and fruit with hard consistency at
consumption (Crisosto, C. et al., 2000). Fruit appearance, color and price are the top three
attributes of fresh produce purchases; however, consumers are willing to pay more for
quality or value-added features (Fresh Trends, 2002). Consumers pick fruit based
primarily on outward appearance and have difficulty consistently judging and purchasing
products for maturity based on appearance alone (Fresh Trends 2002).
The California Tree Fruit Agreement found that consumers prefer peaches and
nectarines with a red color, that can be bred into the fruit. Also, Chris Fisher of agAccess,
a Davis, California-based consulting firm, suggests that consumers want peaches, plums,
and nectarines, but do not get a “uniform eating experience.” To boost consumer demand
the CTFA is incorporating new ripening protocols. This research examines consumers of
peaches, plums, and nectarines to determine satisfaction with stone fruit and the factors
affecting purchasing behavior. In addition, consumer reaction to a label that indicates fruit
ripeness is examined.

Proc. Int. Conf. Quality in Chains
Eds. Tijskens & Vollebregt 61
Acta Hort. 604, ISHS 2003

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