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Amalie B. Kurzer, Rose Bechtel and Jean-Xavier Guinard

To identify factors that may reduce mandarin (Citrus reticulata) and orange (Citrus sinensis) consumer acceptance and to acquire information on current consumer thoughts and perceptions, a series of eight focus groups were held in a college town in northern California: four with children and four with adults. Adults mentioned cost proportionately more (P ≤ 0.05) often than children, as well as farm to fork, purchasing preferences, and seasonality. Children mentioned eating preferences, social use, and healthiness more often (P ≤ 0.05). Flavor and taste were important to both age groups, as well as ease of peeling. Both ages viewed oranges as slightly too large and messier than mandarins. Adults felt frustration that oranges and mandarins lack flavor and that quality is not consistent. Many indicated they would be willing to pay more for consistent quality. Children reported relying on availability, appearance, and the basic tastes to guide their choices and did not express a clear preference between mandarins and oranges. Development of a fruit intermediate in size between an orange and a mandarin, either a small orange or a large mandarin, would potentially satisfy an untapped area of the market. Other potential areas of consumer interest are in fruits with edible peels, like kumquats (Citrus japonica) and in more unique, identifiable varieties such as Cara Cara oranges.