Fruit bowl of opportunity in data analytics

11 September 2019

The perfect tasting raspberry on the other side of the world is at the heart of research by a Hamilton data analytics company, which specialises in crop quality.

The work on raspberries is being done by Delytics at Waikato’s Innovation Park, in collaboration with their client, The James Hutton Institute, in the UK.

It is one example of a Hamilton business making its mark on the world stage as part of the Waikato’s thriving food and agritech industry.

Delytics has developed a crop quality model which is used by fruit industries around the world to improve the way they do business.

The model delves into the fascinating world of consumer behaviour when it comes to the purchasing and enjoyment of fruit and other crops.

The modelling work has been applied to a range of fruits like table grapes, mangoes, kiwifruit and oranges.

Put simply, shoppers will buy more fruit when it tastes good.

So, by applying data analytics, Delytics assists entire industries to improve the liking of fruit and repeat purchasing.  

 “The whole industry performs better when the fruit at retail consistently tastes great, and consumers are confident to buy more,” says Managing Director, Mark Loeffen.

It is all about understanding consumer behaviour, he says.

“Research shows with table grapes, shoppers are out of the market for six weeks after they have had a negative eating experience. People are more likely to go back very quickly and purchase more fruit after a good eating experience.”

In other words, the nicer table grapes taste, the more consumers will buy them.

Bringing taste back to the forefront of breeding practices is at the heart of the raspberry research, with consumer feedback showing taste was poor in the majority of raspberries bought in UK supermarkets last year.

“In recent years, the theme for breeding has been disease resistance, drought resistance, climate change… and in doing that they lost sight of the fact that raspberries actually have to taste good.”

Delytics uses mystery shoppers to sample and report back on their experience of buying and eating fruit. Laboratory testing is also used to monitor fruit properties like sweetness, acidity and firmness.

“We can help industries set minimum maturity standards so they know exactly when to harvest to ensure that a high percentage of consumers will enjoy the fruit and repurchase.”

The company has been operating in Hamilton for 20 years and changed its name in 2012.

Before starting up Delytics, Mark was at the New Zealand Meat Industry Research Institute, based at Ruakura.  While most of Delytics’ clients are overseas, Mark says Hamilton is a great base.

“There is still a lot of research horsepower in the Waikato,” he says.

“We operate internationally from the Waikato.  For our business, we need to have good phone communications, good internet and be close to an international airport.”

Hamilton ticks all the boxes.  “That is all we need for our business.”