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American Society for Horticultural Science

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Home HortScience Consumers Say They'll Spend More for Sweeter, Juicier Fruit
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WENATCHEE, WA—Marketing fresh fruit is an evolving science. As consumers become increasingly interested in higher-quality fruits, scientists and industry professionals are searching for production, storage, and marketing methods that ensure the availability of fresh, healthy produce.

Understanding the value that consumers place on fruit quality is essential to ensuring repeat purchases and profits for fruit producers. A study published in HortScience investigated the effects of "eating quality characteristics" on consumer preferences for fresh 'Anjou' pears. "This is an important research question for the pear industry because the potential of increasing commercial viability is dependent on the industry’s capability of supplying consistent and optimal quality," said Washington State University scientist R. Karina Gallardo.

Gallardo and a team of researchers designed a study using sensory tests to investigate how consumers value pear quality characteristics. Pears used in the experiments were treated with varying amounts of ethylene, a naturally occurring hormone, at two different times (December and March) during the marketing season.

The study participants were given pear samples that had been subjected to several different storage and conditioning treatments. After tasting each sample, participants were asked to rate their overall impressions of fruit flavor, sweetness, juiciness, firmness, and texture. They were then asked about their pear buying habits, including what price they usually paid for pears, how frequently they purchased pears, and their attitudes toward locally grown and organic fresh produce. The final step of the consumer-based experiment was a set of questions designed to elicit participants' willingness to pay.

Results showed that consumer preference for pear firmness was highly variable and dependent on individuals' particular tastes and preferences. "We found that consumers are willing to discount 15.43 cents/kg to 37.48 cents/kg for a one-unit increase in 'Anjou' pear firmness and are willing to pay 19.84 cents/kg to 24.25 cents/kg for a one-unit increase in soluble solids concentration (SSC)," Gallardo noted.

"This study showed that optimal quality could be achieved through a postharvest treatment consisting of ethylene application, yet standardization of ethylene application is needed to ensure that the resulting quality is consistent," the researchers concluded. "Implications of this study emphasize the value of placing optimal quality pears in the market."


The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site:

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at


Original Article:

Willingness to Pay for Optimal 'Anjou' Pear Quality
R. Karina Gallardo, Eugene Kupferman, and Ann Colonna
HortScience 46:452–456. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]

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