Consumer Perception Concerning Apple Fruit Quality, Depending on Cultivars and Hedonic Scale of Evaluation - a Case Study
The objective of this study was to analyse fruit quality through consumers' perceptions and their preferences revealed by two panel questionnaires. Among the most common apple cultivars on the Romanian markets, were chosen the ones existing simultaneously and continuously (over two-years, during January-March): 'Golden Delicious', 'Braeburn', 'Granny Smith', 'Red Delicious', 'Jonagold', 'Jonathan', 'Florina', 'Idared'. The consumers' panel for sensory evaluation was represented by students, who completed two types of questionnaires. Both questionnaires refer to foremost traits for dessert apple, such as fruit appearance (size, shape, color) and intrinsic peculiarities (pulp consistency, juiciness, taste, flavor). First questionnaire comprised different scales for the traits (1-3, 1-5 or 1-15), while the second one consisted of the hedonic scale (1-9) for all traits. For commercial appearance of the fruits were highlighted 'Idared', 'Granny Smith', 'Braeburn' and especially 'Jonagold'. 'Braeburn' was distinct by the highest quality taste (average grade 13.9 on the scoring taste scale 1-15) and also for fruit flavor. 'Granny Smith', a commercially attractive-looking fruit, received only an average of 6.2 for taste and 2.6 for flavor. 'Granny Smith' presented the largest value for the coefficients of variation for taste, this variety being preferred less by female than male tasters. Inconsistency of the market, prices and foreign assortment on Romanian market was illustrated by the lack of statistical correlations between commercial fruit quality and price. The study could provide useful background information for apples breeders, farmers and marketing fruits strategy. The use of different scales for panel evaluation, dependent on the relevance of traits, might be a proper solution for reducing bias. In this case, the 1-15 large scale for apple taste compared with lower ones for other traits assured a more appropriate image of the tasters' preferences.
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