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    Rights: The University of Waikato
    Published 9 June 2011 Referencing Hub media

    Christina Bava from Plant & Food Research discusses how consumer research can help breeders developing new fruit cultivars. Consumer research provides an insight into what type of consumer might be interested in a new variety and when and how they might consume it. This feedback is helpful for breeders from the early stages of developing a new cultivar.


    Christina Bava (Plant & Food Research)
    The breeding process is a very long process, and it doesn’t just happen overnight. There is a lot of teamwork, a lot of financial commitment involved, and you need to be sure that you are working on a product that is actually going to get into the market and that people are going to like and buy and that it’s worth the investment.

    So when developing a new type of fruit product, we would often have the consumer side become involved in the process quite early on. So once the concept has been developed and we understand a little more about where the breeders can go with it and what developments they can make, we can start to get some initial concept development undertaken through focus groups, for example, or just talking with consumers about the ideas that we have, and the ideas generated through those focus groups can be used to feed back to breeders, to let them know where the interest lies.

    When we run focus groups, for example, we would often get a series of different demographic groups to come in, and we would try and understand who it is that is interested in this product. Is it parents that would love for their children to be eating novel fruit and to get them to increase their fruit consumption, or is it people that love to have social dinner parties and would just love to have something that is a little new and exciting to be able to put into their salad or fruit salad, for example?

    We have run groups where we have presented images of the red-fleshed apple and the room alights with excitement. People are really excited about seeing a novel-coloured apple. That’s not to say that, if consumers came in and responded negatively, we would just disregard the concept. It would make us then revisit how we ran the groups, what kinds of questions we ask and, more importantly, we use those focus groups to try and generate an understanding of what consumers are intrigued in – what kinds of questions that they are asking of the product – and that can help develop the kind of marketing style strategy of how the product may be pitched.