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Amy H. Simonne, Bridget K. Behe and Maurice M. Marshall

Fresh and processed tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) consumption has increased 40% in the United States over the last two decades. Through better breeding, fresh tomatoes now are marketed in different forms, sizes, colors, and flavors. However, little published information exists concerning consumer demand, preference, and demographic characteristics related to fresh tomato consumption. Taking advantage of a high percentage of Internet use in the U.S., two web-based surveys were released to approximately 6000 e-mail addresses reaching people in every region of the U.S. The surveys contained a total of 61 questions, including 50 digital images of five types of tomatoes (cherry, grape, cluster, plum, and regular slicing) with combinations of three additional factors (price, lycopene content, and production style) and demographic information. Among 389 respondents, 76% preferred and purchased slicing tomatoes in the 4 weeks prior to the survey. These were followed by grape/mini-pear (42%), plum (36%), cluster (27%), cherry (25%), and yellow slicing tomatoes (4.4%). Overall, production method (organic vs. conventional) had low relative importance in comparison to price and tomato type. However, younger participants (<age 38 years) placed more importance on production method. Participants between ages 39 and 57 years were the most price-sensitive, and female were less sensitive than males. Younger participants (<age 38 years) were less price-sensitive and placed more importance on the other attributes (production method, lycopene content, and tomato type).