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  • Author or Editor: Elsa S. Sánchez x
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Two separate consumer-marketing studies were conducted between 30 Oct. and 2 Dec. 2002 to determine consumer awareness and potential demand for edamame [Glycine max (L.) Merrill]. The first study consisted of a sensory evaluation that included 113 participants who tasted and rated three edamame cultivars based on firmness and overall appeal and then ranked the beans in order of preference at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park Campus. To estimate demand, the participants answered questions regarding their likelihood to purchase edamame after the sensory evaluation. The second study, a telephone survey, was administered by a marketing firm to determine consumer awareness of edamame as well as their produce purchasing habits. Responses were collected from 401 consumers within the Metro-Philadelphia area. Consumer reaction to the sensory evaluation was positive, and after reading about the health benefits, a majority of consumers (92%) indicated they would likely purchase edamame and serve it in a meal whereas 89% gave this response after only sampling the edamame beans. When responses were compared among cultivars, overall liking for `Green Legend' (6.29; 1 = extremely dislike; 9 = like extremely) was significantly lower than for `Kenko' (6.84); however, neither cultivar was significantly different from `Early Hakucho' (6.62). Participants also rated `Kenko' as having a firmness that was `just about right'. Verbal comments from participants leaving the evaluation site included interest in purchasing edamame and inquiries as to where it could be purchased in the vicinity of the university. Telephone survey participants also expressed a willingness to purchase edamame and serve it in a meal after hearing about the potential health benefits (66%). Based on consumer responses to selected telephone survey questions, three distinct marketing segments were created. Potential purchasers (58% of participants), consisted of consumers who were more likely to consider the importance of the nutritional content of vegetables they purchased (73%), included the greatest percent of consumers who had purchased soy or soy-based products (70%), and were very likely (51%) and somewhat likely (46%) to eat edamame after learning about the health benefits. The second largest segment of participants characterized as unlikely edamame eaters (22% of participants) consisted of individuals who were very likely (20%) and somewhat likely (43%) to purchase vegetables they had never eaten before if evidence suggested that it might decrease the risk of cancer and/or other diseases. However, within this group, none of the participants were either very likely or somewhat likely to eat edamame after being told about the health benefits. The last group, characterized as requires convincing (20% of participants), consisted of individuals who were the least likely to base produce-purchasing decisions on the nutritional content of vegetables. After learning about health benefits specific to edamame, 8% of these participants were very likely and 48% were somewhat likely to eat edamame. Hence, separate marketing strategies may need to be developed to target these distinct segments based on interest in eating edamame, importance of nutritional information, and current vegetable purchasing habits.

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A sensory evaluation was conducted on 9–10 Feb. 2005 at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park campus, to determine consumer acceptance of two edamame [Glycinemax (L.) Merrill] -based patties. This value-added product was chosen because of the increasing popularity of vegetable-based burgers. Patties were mainly composed of edamame, mushrooms, and onion; however, they differed, based on the type of mushroom and seasonings used and the addition of walnuts to one of the recipes. One type of patty was evaluated each day with participants rating it on overall appeal, flavor, appearance, and texture. A total of 209 consumers participated in the 2-day sensory evaluation, 106 on the first day and 103 on the second; and 23.6% and 25.2%, respectively, were familiar with or had heard of edamame before. Overall mean liking for the patties was 6.38 and 6.58 (1 being dislike extremely and 9 being like extremely) and mean liking for flavor was 6.44 and 6.83, respectively. Based on the sample, 43.4% and 35.9% of participants each day indicated that they “probably would buy” or “definitely would buy” this item from a supermarket. Consumers also ranked select product characteristics that influence their decision to purchase new food items in terms of importance. Results were similar for both days with flavor, nutritional value, and price ranked as the three most important factors that influence their purchasing deci-sions. Verbal comments from participants indicated a strong interest in purchasing this product. Results suggested that consumers found the two edamame-based patties acceptable. Small-acreage growers could consider marketing edamame for use in value-added products such as these.

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An in-store marketing study was conducted in Fall 2004 to determine consumer demand for fresh, inshell edamame [Glycinemax (L.) Merrill]. Each Wednesday from 1 Sept. to 6 Oct. 2004, thirty 12-ounce plastic clamshells were placed in the produce department of four supermarkets in metro-Philadelphia, Pa. Packaged edamame remained in the supermarkets for 1 week and was replaced with fresh product when the next weekly delivery was made. A sample recipe, a follow-up survey and an addressed, postage-paid reply envelope were attached to the bottom of each clamshell. The survey was used to determine consumer perceptions, interest in Pennsylvania-grown edamame and the criteria they consider when choosing new produce items sold at supermarkets for themselves and their families. Of the 480 clamshells that were delivered, 312 were purchased. The total number of clamshells purchased weekly ranged from 64 to 87, while the number of clamshells purchased weekly at individual stores ranged from 6 to 30. Thirty-three surveys were returned with all participants responding that they had heard of or were familiar with edamame prior to purchasing the container. Of those who responded, 78.8% had purchased edamame before. Based on the total number of packages sold, a potential demand for fresh, inshell edamame exists among consumers in metro-Philadelphia. Results from this study will be used to assist small-acreage growers interested in marketing specialty vegetable crops, such as edamame, to chain supermarkets. By understanding consumer interests, we are able to more effectively determine which type of packaging and promotional materials best attract the attention of potential buyers.

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Two studies were conducted to determine consumer interest in fresh, in-shell edamame [Glycine max (L.) Merrill] and acceptance of two edamame-based patties. An in-store consumer research study was conducted in metropolitan Philadelphia to determine consumer demand for and interest in fresh, in-shell edamame. In fall 2004, plastic clamshells of edamame were placed in the produce department of four supermarkets. Consumers who purchased the clamshells were asked to return a survey that was attached to the container. Of the 480 clamshells that were delivered to the four selected supermarkets, 312 (65.0%) were purchased and 33 (10.6%) of the surveys were returned. All respondents indicated that they had heard of or were familiar with edamame before purchasing the container, and 81.2% had previously purchased edamame. Results indicate that 51.6% of respondents were more likely to purchase the edamame because it was grown in Pennsylvania, and 84.4% were more likely to purchase it because it was grown without the use of pesticides. In addition, a friend's recommendation, price, and sample of the product at the supermarket were rated highest among factors likely to affect respondents' purchasing decisions regarding new produce items. Based on the total number of packages sold and conversations with produce department managers, there appears to be a demand for fresh, in-shell edamame among supermarket consumers in metropolitan Philadelphia. A second study involving a consumer sensory evaluation was conducted in Feb. 2005 to determine consumer acceptance of two edamame-based patties. A total of 209 adults were involved, with 106 participants sampling the edamame-based patties on the first day and 103 sampling on the second day. Participants were asked to rate the patty they sampled on overall appeal, appearance, and flavor on a scale of 1 to 9 points (1 point being “dislike extremely” and 9 points being “like extremely”). Overall mean liking for the two patties was 6.38 points and 6.58 points, and mean liking for flavor was 6.44 points and 6.83 points on days 1 and 2 respectively. Based on the sample evaluated, 43.4% and 35.9% of participants, each day, indicated that they “probably would buy” or “definitely would buy” this item from a supermarket. Results suggest that consumers found the two edamame-based patties acceptable, indicating the potential for commercial production. Across the two studies, consumers expressed interest in purchasing fresh, in-shell edamame and edamame-based patties from a supermarket.

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