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Greg Martin 02/09/06 Buy for eating, not for price
by Greg Martin, click here for bio

Program: Fruit Grower Report
Date: February 09, 2006

It is not about the price. So say Northwest researchers involved in a joint study to determine what attributes consumers would pay more for to obtain Northwest Elite Gala apples.

MCCLUSKEY: We wanted to look at how consumers valued specific eating quality attributes of apples. To get a higher quality of apples, we know that consumers will pay more money for elite products.

Jill McCluskey of Washington State Universitys College of Economic Sciences said sensory data was used to obtain the information in the study. What were the findings? For one, while color and appearance is what lured consumers to buy an apple, it was the firmness and juiciness of the apple that led to repeat purchases. So says Anna Marin of Oregon State Universitys Food Innovation Center.

MARIN: The other thing is that now is becoming an important factor is the memory of the last apple you had and which variety it was, and the eating experience.

The study shows consumers would pay up to twenty-four cent more for a pound of Elite Galas with consumer preferred attributes. And the study suggests that consumer preferences should be emphasized in apple grading systems. But as Marin points out, can such a model be economically feasible for the apple industry?

MARIN: The thing is in the whole crops of apples, can you realistically set your standards so high that you have a real high standard of apples but then is it going to be cost effective? Thats something that they have to answer.

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