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The 2009 ASHS Annual Conference

Use of a Sensory Evaluation to Assess Consumer Acceptance and Preferences of Lesser-Known Cultivars of Apple Scab Resistant Fresh Apples

Tuesday, July 28, 2009: 1:00 PM
Jefferson C (Millennium Hotel St. Louis)
Kathleen Kelley, Pennsylvania State Univ, University Park, PA
Jeffrey Hyde, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Robert Crassweller, Professor, of, Tree, Fruit, Horticulture, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
James Travis, Professor, of, Plant, Pathology, Plant Pathology, The Pennsylvania State University, Biglerville, PA
One hundred and forty-nine consumers participated in a sensory evaluation, conducted on 14 Nov. 2008 at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park campus to determine consumer acceptance and perceptions of apple-scab resistant cultivars of apples.  The study was conducted to provide Pennsylvania tree fruit growers with a better understanding of consumer demand for apples that could be produced at orchards in the Commonwealth and serve as substitutes for common cultivars which require frequent conventional pesticide applications.  As growers in Pennsylvania consider “certified” organic production practices, it is necessary to determine what cultivars, suitable for organic production, end users desire.  Participants were recruited from the university community and were screened in order to select those who consumed fresh apples.  During the 10-minute sensory evaluation, participants rated six apple cultivars, ‘Crimson Crisp,’ ‘GoldRush,’ NY 49, ‘Crimson Topaz,’ ‘Sundance,’ and ‘Jonagold,’ a commercial available cultivar, on appearance, aroma, texture, flavor, and overall appeal.  ‘Crimson Topaz,’NY 49, and ‘Crimson Crisp,’ three of the four cultivars tested with a ‘red’ colored peel, were rated significantly higher than the other samples based on appearance, receiving ratings that were between ‘like moderately’ to ‘like very much.’  In regards to texture, ‘Crimson Topaz,’ ‘GoldRush,’ ‘Sundance,’ and ‘Crimson Crisp’ received scores between ‘like slightly’ and ‘like moderately.’ For overall liking scores, ‘Crimson Crisp,’ which was rated between ‘like slightly’ and ‘like moderately,’ was not significantly different from ‘Crimson Topaz’ and ‘GoldRush;’ however, ‘Crimson Crisp’ was rated higher than ‘Jonagold,’ NY 49 and ‘Sundance.’  Participants also responded to questions regarding their food purchasing attitudes and behaviors.  When asked how often they purchased “certified” organically grown fruits and/or vegetables in the past year, approximately one-third (34.9 percent) responded that they had not purchased these items, while an additional 30.2 percent indicated that they purchased these items “about once a month” or more frequently.  Sixty-two percent of participants purchased fresh apples for themselves and/or other household members at least “two or three times a month” during an average year.  Only 2.7 percent responded that they purchased fresh apples “more than once a week.”  Assessments of potential markets, both within Pennsylvania and in bordering states, for organically-grown apples are necessary to determine which opportunities are truly feasible and which are not as practical.  Learning directly from the consumer as to their wants and needs is absolutely crucial for any effort to be successful and economically sustainable.