Consumer-centric maturity standards for table grapes in Australia
Combining crop quality measurements with consumer preferences research has enabled Delytics Ltd to design science-based maturity standards for the Australian Table Grape industry to increase consumer demand.
The new minimum standards are based on the analysis of maturity monitoring data carried out over the past two seasons as part of a project led by Delytics on behalf of the Australian Table Grape Association (ATGA).
The project Table grape supply chain quality 2017-2020 (TG17002) is a levy investment in the Hort Innovation Table Grape Fund. It is funded using the table grape research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government.
In October 2018 the Australian table grape industry collectively agreed to develop minimum maturity standards that are well-aligned with consumer taste expectations, and extensive consultation was carried out with major retailers, suppliers and individual growers.
Delytics assisted the industry with their decision making by analysing maturity data from 13,500 table grapes collected from farms, supermarkets and export. The analysis showed that standards based on Brix measurement alone could deliver increased consumer acceptability. The industry agreed in June 2019 to adopt the Brix measure instead of the combined Brix and Brix:acid ratio measures that were previously used.
Delytics Managing Director Mark Loeffen says, “We consulted the industry to determine what results they wanted in terms of consumer acceptance and repeat purchases. Once we understood what they wanted to achieve, we designed the maturity standards and supporting protocols to deliver their desired level of minimum consumer acceptability, based on solid science.”
The ATGA applied the minimum maturity standards in October to coincide with the 2019/20 harvest. ATGA CEO Jeff Scott says the new standards will give consumers the confidence to purchase more table grapes.
Jeff says, “Delytics’ analysis of two years of solid research has helped us determine the best method to calculate the minimum maturity standard to assist all growers to harvest their fruit at the optimum maturity. This will ensure that Australian table grapes purchased from major retailers will provide a consistently good eating experience, throughout the entire season.”