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Consumer preference of apple cultivars suited for organic production and which factors influence the buying decision

Weibel, F.P., Kruczynska, D., Konopacka, D.
Acta horticulturae 2012 no.933 pp. 645-652
apples, consumer preferences, cultivars, food quality, foods, organic certification, organic production, prices, purchasing, questionnaires, taste, Poland, Switzerland
In our study within the European ISAFRUIT project, we examined in Poland and Switzerland the acceptance of representative organic and conventional food buyers for new disease resistant apple cultivars in comparison to similar-type common cultivars (6 cultivars per country). In total 120 testers were involved. The panel tests were carried out with blinded samples in a first run, and in a second run as branded samples where information on production system (organic or integrated) and price (+26% for organic fruit) was given. With additional questionnaires we assessed the importance of the testers’ general knowledge and perception on organic (fruit) production on their preference behavior. With blinded samples, in both countries both consumer groups rated the appearance and eating quality of resistant and susceptible apple cultivars relatively equal with minor advantages for the standard cultivars. However, when the samples were branded, organic buyers of both countries significantly increased their preference in appearance and on taste for the organic samples. In Poland, even the conventional buyers increased their rating for branded ‘bio’ samples; meanwhile the Swiss conventional buyers decreased it clearly. The analysis of the questionnaires revealed that: (i) in both countries and with both buyer groups, the awareness for the high importance of resistant cultivars for organic production is only mediocre; (ii) to increase their buying of organic apple they mainly require more basic and apple-specific information on organic production; (iii) the consumers expect from organic apples an outstanding inner quality but also a good price; (iv) the consumer’s trust in the control and certification of organic production is only mediocre.