Growing Futures

Introducing consumer-focused standards

Delivering superior apples

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Introducing consumer-focused standards

New Zealand is one of the leaders in introducing consumer-centric quality standards for its fruit exports.

In the early 2000s, the New Zealand kiwifruit industry began investigating the use of dry matter concentration (DMC) as a quality attribute and Plant & Food Research scientists identified DMC at harvest as a predictive measure of quality at consumption. Subsequently, ZESPRI introduced new grading standards that rewarded growers for delivering kiwifruit with high DMC rather than being purely based on physical standards such as size and shape.

Plant & Food Research later worked with the Australian avocado industry and identified DMC has having a large impact on consumer preference. DMC is now used as a measure of avocado fruit maturity and guides growers on the best time to harvest to deliver the best quality.

Scientific opinion was divided on whether DMC may be useful as a quality indicator for apples, as texture was known to be a key driver for apple preference and DMC was believed to affect only taste. Early investigations proved those who doubted DMC to be wrong, and the results were presented to Pipfruit New Zealand and the wider sector. The industry could see the benefit and added their support to the research, leading to DMC now being used as a quality indicator and as a tool for planning supply logistics.