Maturity standards recommended by crop quality specialists Delytics Ltd have significantly improved the eating quality of New Zealand navel oranges, over the past four seasons.
Retail monitoring carried out each season by New Zealand Citrus has shown that the consumer acceptability of navel oranges has remained consistently high since new minimum maturity standards were adopted in 2016.
At the end of the 2016 season, retail sampling showed that the percentage of New Zealand navel oranges that met the minimum standard deemed to be liked by consumers had jumped from 67% to 96%. The consumer acceptability at retail has remained over 80% in all three seasons since then, despite seasonal variations in weather and crop yield.
The maturity standards are an integral part of the independent clearance process that Delytics designed for Citrus New Zealand in 2015.
Wayne Hall, Chairperson of the Citrus New Zealand said, “Delytics has developed a robust clearance process that helps us minimise immature fruit getting into the supply chain. Our whole driver was to increase the volume of navels that can be sold at a sustainable return by improving their consumer appeal. We want consumers to buy their first navel, enjoy it and then come back and buy more. The feedback we got from retailers is that the fruit has been well received and repeat purchases have been very good. Delytics helped us add the new maturity measurement protocols to the clearance process and we are now putting a much more consistent piece of fruit into the marketplace.”
Citrus New Zealand Research Manager, Sally Anderson says, “Achieving a consistent consumer acceptability over 80% has been a really great outcome for New Zealand citrus growers. It shows the investment that we’ve put into developing, organising and managing our quality programme is paying off for growers by having a positive affect at the retail level. Delytics has really helped us drive our quality programme from a technical perspective, and their support has been very valuable.”
Delytics Ltd are continuing to work with Citrus New Zealand to ensure the acceptability of navel oranges at retail remains above 80%, and ideally reaches a consistent consumer acceptability threshold of 85% or higher.