ASHS Press Releases

American Society for Horticultural Science

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home HortTechnology Consumers Prefer New Apple Varieties to Established Breeds
E-mail Print

ST. PAUL, MN—The apple business is competitive. As an array of new apple varieties debuts, consumers are faced with more options and more difficult buying choices. An apple variety's success and survival in the marketplace depends on a wide range of quality attributes; characteristics such as apple color, size, crispness, juiciness, sweetness, tartness, and even perceived health benefits all contribute to an apple's popularity.

Chengyan Yue and Cindy Tong, researchers from the University of Minnesota and authors of a new study of consumer apple preferences, used choice experiments to investigate consumers' preferences and willingness to pay (WTP) for apple varieties. The experiments were conducted in real markets with consumers who were making fruit purchases. "Our objectives were to determine how much consumers are willing to pay for 13 new and existing apple varieties and learn what quality attributes consumers like or dislike in new vs. older apple varieties," Yue and Tong said. Their study was published in HortTechnology.

The two attributes tested in the choice experiments were apple varieties and prices. "Because we were interested in consumer preference and willingness to pay for apple varieties based merely on appearance and taste instead of brand name, we did not tell the participants the names of the apples," Yue and Tong explained. "This was important because we were testing new varieties that may have been unfamiliar to consumers against established varieties with brand identity, and brand name may have a significant effect on consumer preferences."

Participants were asked to taste one piece of apple from each variety. In addition, three whole apples of each variety were displayed so that participants could evaluate the apples' appearance. After tasting the apples, participants were presented with a series of pricing scenarios and asked to choose one alternative in each pricing scenario. "Generally speaking, consumers revealed stronger preferences and were willing to pay more for newer rather than more established apple varieties," the researchers said. "For example, the newest apple variety, 'SweeTango®', appealed to consumers the most." Compared with its parents 'Zestar!TM' and 'Honeycrisp', 'SweeTango®' was considered superior in terms of firmness and crispness, and tartness and sweetness, respectively.

The experiments showed that consumers may be willing to pay more for new apple varieties than for established ones. "Implications for the apple industry are that there are opportunities to market these new apple varieties by charging relatively higher prices," the authors said. "Our study provides important information on consumer WTP for both frequent and infrequent apple buyers. By charging for these apple varieties at or below these levels while still above costs, marketers are likely to attract more potential consumers, which can potentially generate larger market share and glean higher profits."

The team noted that their study can help apple breeders make more targeted breeding decisions by better understanding what quality attributes consumers like or dislike. Improved targeting of breeding decisions can ensure more successful new variety development for the apple industry.


The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortTechnology 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:

Consumer Preferences and Willingness to Pay for Existing and New Apple Varieties: Evidence from Apple Tasting Choice Experiments
Chengyan Yue and Cindy Tong
HortTechnology 21:376–383. [Abstract][Full Text][PDF]

Corresponding author. E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it