Navel Oranges Reap Ongoing Benefits from Maturity Standards

22 March 2022

New Zealand navel oranges have demonstrated the ongoing benefits of maturity standards, with six consecutive seasons of high consumer acceptability.

The retail monitoring data Delytics analyses for Citrus New Zealand has shown a consistently high consumer acceptance for navel oranges since the industry adopted consumer-validated minimum maturity standards in 2016.

Consumer acceptability has averaged 87% for New Zealand navel oranges since the new maturity standards were adopted, despite some significant seasonal variations in weather and crop yield. This is 20 percentage points higher than in 2015, before the standards were adopted, when consumer acceptability was 67%.

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’ analysis of the retail monitoring data we collect has given the sector insight into how maturity functions every season and shown that there is real value in harvesting when the fruit is ready.”

The navel orange maturity standards are an integral part of the independent clearance process that Delytics designed for Citrus New Zealand in 2015.

Delytics Managing Director, Mark Loeffen says, “The consistently high consumer acceptance of New Zealand navel oranges is a great example of the long-term value that a whole industry or brand holder can gain by putting processes in place to make sure that fruit is harvested and sent to market at the right maturity. We’ve seen many examples where the investment made to set and adopt maturity standards has provided continuous benefits over each successive season the standards are followed. These benefits flow through the whole supply chain to the end consumer and the return on investment is typically very high.”

Delytics specialises in designing maturity standards and clearance processes that match consumer taste preferences in specific markets. They are currently focusing on helping marketing companies with licensed growers in multiple growing regions make sure their branded fruit delivers a consistent high quality eating experience, no matter where it is grown or bought.

Mark says, “In our experience from working with many fruit industries, consumer acceptance is often a lot lower than many marketers and retailers think - so it’s critical that retail monitoring is carried out to provide an evidence-based baseline measure. If the results of that monitoring don’t match the consumer response the fruit brand or industry is wanting, then that information will provide a solid benchmark to compare the results of any work they do to improve maturity.”

“Ensuring fruit consistently provides the taste experience that consumers want is definitely worth the investment. Putting processes in place to prevent immature fruit from entering the supply chain will help drive demand, increase repeat purchases, and enable branded fruit to be marketed as premium.”