Export markets reveal a taste for Australian fruit

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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.

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.

“‘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,” he said.

Mr Tomkins said one survey looked at two new pears Deliza® and Lanya® in Thailand and Indonesia and compared them to the well-known Packham pear. Key findings included:

A price point under AU$6.51 per kg for Indonesia and under AU$10.83 per kg for Thailand

Indonesians prefer buying in international supermarkets whereas Thai prefer fresh markets, and both prefer to buy pears individually in loose formats, one to three times per week.

Consumers in Indonesia like to buy pears because they are healthy, and the whole family likes them. Thai consumers buy pears because they taste great and are versatile.

Another round of surveys in Indonesia collected feedback from 150 consumers on six cultivars of Australian stone-fruit; two nectarines, two peaches and two plums. Key findings included:

Indonesian consumers preferred hard white flesh peaches, soft or hard white flesh nectarines and soft red flesh dapple or hard red flesh dark plums. Red skin is preferred across all cultivars.

A price point of AU$6.47 per kg is attractive to 95 per cent of consumers.

It is important for Indonesian consumers to be able to see, touch and feel the fruit prior to buying.

Consumers like to buy stone-fruit because they are healthy, versatile and refreshing.

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

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

A total of 360 shoppers took part in a written questionnaire. Key findings were:

It is important for Chinese shoppers to be able to touch and smell fruit before purchase; 86 per cent of people surveyed said they would prefer to buy individual, unwrapped fruit

Acceptable price points ranged from AU$5.80 to AU$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

Characteristics influencing purchasing were; skin colour, firmness, size and aroma.

“Results collected are being used by industry to make well-informed decisions on what fruit to invest in and grow for export,” Mr Tomkins said.

“This information is also being shared with retailers in export markets to help ensure Australian fruit is stored, handled, displayed and promoted to maximise sales.”

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