External Quality of Mandarins: Influence of Fruit Appearance Characteristics on Consumer Choice
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Cita bibliográficaTarancón, P., Tárrega, A., González, M. & Besada, C. (2021). External Quality of Mandarins: Influence of Fruit Appearance Characteristics on Consumer Choice. Foods, 10(9), 2188.
In a pre-purchase situation, consumer perception of mandarin quality is almost exclusively based on fruit appearance. Determination of consumer requirements in this regard is needed to preserve the current success of this crop in markets worldwide. In this study, the effect on consumer choice of different appearance characteristics that can occur mainly in early-season mandarins was quantified. Two independent Choice-Based Conjoint Analyses were performed to evaluate the effect of different external mandarin factors: (1) two factors linked mainly with harvesting practices: ‘Leaf’ (no leaves but sound calyx/fresh leaf/dehydrated leaf) and ‘Rind Colour’ (orange colour/rind with slightly greenish areas); (2) three factors related to postharvest handling: ‘Calyx Condition’ (sound/blackening/detached),’Waxing’ (absence/presence of wax), and ‘Rind Condition’ (dehydrated/turgid). A total of 280 consumers participated in each study. The evaluation of the factors linked with harvesting revealed four different choice patterns. Leaf presence was appreciated only by a small group of consumers (20%), and the presence of greenish areas on the rind was perceived mostly as a negative characteristic. Among the evaluated postharvest-related factors, ‘Waxing’ and ‘Calyx condition’ had the strongest effect on consumer choice. Consumers showed marked preferences for mandarins that had been waxed and presented shine and gloss. Calyx blackening and detachment had a negative effect mainly on waxed fruit, while rind dehydration more negatively affected the fruit that had not been waxed. Consumer perception of mandarin quality is importantly affected by external mandarin characteristics. The information herein reported can be very useful for the citrus industry for adapting quality control criteria that respond to consumer demands.