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  • Author or Editor: Ann Colonna x
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In light of increasing consumer demand for optimal fresh fruit quality, experience attributes are crucial to ensure repeated purchases and price premiums. Challenges in offering consistent quality throughout the marketing year make ‘Anjou’ pears an interesting case in which to analyze the effects of experience quality attributes on willingness to pay. We analyzed data from choice experiments conducted along with sensory tests at two different times during the marketing year. Results indicate that individuals are willing to discount between 15.43 cents/kg to 37.48 cents/kg for a one-unit increase in pear firmness and pay between 19.84 cents/kg to 24.25 cents/kg for a one-unit increase in soluble solid concentration. This information would help the industry assign priority to the factors likely enhancing the characteristics leading to repeated sales at price premiums. Also, this information is valuable to related sciences because it provides market information for focusing research portfolios on quality characteristics likely to increase pears’ commercial viability.

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Assessing consumer acceptance is an important aspect of cultivar evaluation. Since 2002, about 2700 consumers have participated in pear preference surveys. Surveys were conducted on multiple dates and at multiple venues from 2002 to 2005 in Oregon and northern California. Survey participants were asked to indicate their preference for pears based on size, appearance, taste, and overall preference. They were also asked to indicate what attributes they liked or disliked about their favorite and least favorite varieties and to indicate their level of purchase intent. Each survey consisted of four to six cultivars, including at least one standard commercial comparison; i.e., Bartlett, Bosc, or Anjou. Data was analyzed (RCBD; Friedman Analysis of Rank or ANOVA/Tukey's HSD) at the OSU Food Innovation Center Experiment Station using Compusense® five v.4.6 software (Guelph, Ont., Canada). Results indicated several alternative possibilities for both summer and winter sales. Among the most preferred cultivars (variable between states) were Anjou (commercial standard winter pear), Bartlett (commercial standard summer pear and most-consumed cultivar), Blake's Pride, Cinnamon, Concorde, and 71655-014. Other major findings were preference for large pears for adults and small for children, overall liking based on sweetness and flavor rather than skin color, and general lack of knowledge of many commercial pear cultivars. Sensory evaluation surveys will be continued in 2006 in California, with focus on differential harvest times for selected preferred cultivars. Consumer preference data is being combined with production and postharvest quality data in order to provide the pear industry a comprehensive data set on potential alternative cultivars.

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