Surveys are fruitful

By Country News

Australian fruit growers have a better understanding of what international consumers are looking for when purchasing fruit, thanks to a series of surveys carried out in China, Thailand and Indonesia.

Conducted by Agriculture Victoria, the three surveys explored attitudes towards Australian pears and stone fruit in the Asian countries to help farmers focus future development to capitalise on export opportunities.

Agriculture Victoria research scientist Bruce Tomkins said there were huge opportunities to grow the market for Australian pears and stone fruit in all three countries.

‘‘To do this, however, marketers need to understand what shoppers want and prices they are willing to pay,’’ Mr Tomkins said.

He said ‘Australian grown’ was identified as a key driver for sales in all markets, ‘‘but we need to provide the right cultivar, with the right characteristics, at the right price’’.

A survey comparing the newer pear varieties of Deliza and Lanya in Thailand and Indonesia with the well-known Packham pear found a price point of under $10.83/kg in Thailand and under $6.51/kg in Indonesia.

Consumers in both countries favoured individual pears in a loose format, with pears typically purchased one to three times a week.

While both nationalities enjoyed pears equally, the survey found their motivation for purchasing differed — Indonesians favoured pears for their health benefits and Thai consumers appreciated their versatility.

A further 150 Indonesians were surveyed for their views on nectarines, peaches and plums, with the survey finding red skin was preferred across all stone fruit.

Consumers said it was important to be able to see, touch and feel the fruit before buying, and 95 per cent of those surveyed found a price point of $6.47/kg ‘‘attractive’’.

A final round of surveys was conducted in three Chinese cities — Beijing, Chongqing and Shanghai — to understand 360 shopper perceptions of two Australian export nectarines.

This survey looked at two cultivars of nectarines, a white sub-acid and a yellow high acid, with Chinese nectarines of soft and firm textures for comparison.

Acceptable price points ranged from $5.80 to $15.65, however, less than half of the people surveyed said they would purchase in the higher price bracket

Soft and sweet nectarines were preferred in most markets, and yellow flesh colour was preferred over white flesh, with skin colour, firmness, size and aroma dominant characteristics influencing purchasing habits.

Mr Tomkins said the survey results offered the industry the chance to make well-informed decisions regarding what fruit to invest in and grow for export.