Dry matter assessment in pear and consumer perception

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1. Determine the reliability of Felix F-750 Produce Quality Meter and therefore if this non-destructive dry matter assessment can be used as at harvest sorting step for more consistent fruit quality categories.
2. Assess if higher dry matter in pear translates into greater consumer liking and acceptability through consumer preference and sensory analysis studies.

The fruit industry needs to maintain high quality products that satisfy the expectations of the consumer. The eating quality is determined by several chemical and physical attributes such as soluble solid content (SSC), acidity, firmness, flavor and dry matter. These parameters are currently measured by using time-consuming destructive techniques. Dry matter (DM) is everything left in the fruit when all the water is removed; this includes sugars, starch, cell walls, fibers and minerals. The dry matter concentration is currently becoming more and more important in the horticultural sector as DM is related to maturity, and consequently to consumer preference. DM has been used in kiwifruit to determine the appropriate picking time, and in apples DM was shown to be a good predictor of total soluble solids after 3 months in storage. In other crops a higher DM at harvest is related to greater consumer acceptability of the product after storage and the increased likelihood to purchase it. Few studies have been performed on the role of dry matter in pears though. One previous research reported that, in Anjou pears, the consumer is willing to pay more (cents/lb) for an increase of one unit in firmness, along with an increase in soluble solids. Thus, the use of the DM, which is positively related to firmness at harvest and SSC after storage, as a sorting index at harvest can provide information about final fruit quality.
Recently, a new non-destructive tool, the Felix F-750 Produce Quality Meter, became commercially available and adopted by the Australian industry for mango. This instrument is a portable spectrometer capable of measuring internal properties such as soluble solids and dry matter. Considering all of this, the objective behind this research is to compare the traditional destructive DM assessment with this new instrument, to evaluate its potential for use as a sorting tool to predict final pear quality and to determine the relationship of pears of different DM with consumer acceptance.

PI: Sara Serra

Co-PI: Stefano Musacchi, Carolyn Ross

Start date: 2016  |  End date: 2017

Source of funding: North West Pear Bureau