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Historical document

Avocado supply chain education materials (AV08017)

Key research provider: Avocados Australia Limited
Publication date: June, 20 10

This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.

What was it all about?

In the Australian Avocado Industry Strategic Plan 2005-2010, eating quality of avocados, productivity and supply chain efficiency were identified as priority areas for industry to address. Recognising that a wide variety of factors affecting fruit quality, productivity and supply chain efficiency are interrelated, the Supply Chain Improvement Program of which this project was one component was developed. Its aim was to specifically identify where the industry currently sits in terms of quality and efficiency and identify points in the supply chain where further work is required to make improvements in these areas.

Consumer sensory testing (AV06025 and AV07019) had been completed to determine quality levels which provide an acceptable consumption experience for consumers and hence did not negatively impact on future purchasing decisions. The results from this work in summary indicated that consumers prefered Hass avocados of maturity equal to or higher than 22 per cent DM and there was a competitive advantage to be gained by supplying Hass increasingly along the range from 22 through to 28 per cent. In light of these results the Industry endorsed that the Dry Matter Standard for Hass has be changed from 21 to 23 per cent.

The results from the consumer work also indicated that 85 per cent of consumers prefer to buy avocados at a level of ripeness that they can consume that evening and that that level of ripeness is in the range of ripe to soft ripe.

Lastly, consumers indicated that any internal quality defects to more than 10 per cent of the overall flesh at all price points would impact negatively on future purchase intent.

Results from subsequent retail quality surveys (AV07018) identified that there was still up to 30 per cent of avocados at the retail level that had more than 10 per cent internal flesh damage and bruising was the biggest issue in terms of internal damage.

The education materials were designed therefore to assist in addressing quality issues including maturity, ripeness and internal damage with a significant focus on reducing bruising damage at all points of the supply chain.

Significant research had been conducted over the past 10 years which still had relevance in assisting members of the supply chain to supply a better quality product to the consumer in line with the consumer research above. A significant proportion of that information was available but needed updating in terms of format and usability. This project was specifically designed to do just that.

A step by step process was used to develop and produce the updated materials. Gaps were identified in currently available education materials, feedback from packhouses, wholesalers and retailers was sought as to what they understood to be the priorities in terms of both education/handling messages and the media that should be used to produce the material. Based on the priority areas, all available information was put into a matrix which was then prioritised and summarised in line with the target audience.

Through consultation with members of industry including avocado quality researchers as well as an instructional designer, theming was developed for the material, including the development of an avocado character who could be used with various props to better communicate relevant messages to target audiences. It was seen as important that the character be designed as a tool to engage the audience.

Because of the close relationship between level of ripeness and susceptibility to damage, specific handling requirements are very much dependent on the level of ripeness of avocados. The first piece of material developed therefore was aimed at providing a tool to better identify the different levels of ripeness both by colour and firmness. This material was then used as a basis for handling requirements for fruit at different levels of ripeness from the packing shed right through to the retail floor. Material was subsequently designed and produced for each of those sectors. In parallel to this a small book was designed including the newly designed avocado mascot, “Alvin” providing a basic history of avocados in general and an overview of the avocado supply chain. This was designed to give everyone in the supply chain an indication of where they fit in the supply chain and how their treatment of the avocado will impact on the end quality of the product.

Both the ripeness poster and the Little Green Book were distributed to all members of the Industry as general reference materials and as a platform for the more focused, specific materials. Each of the other posters were distributed to members of the relevant supply chain sectors. All material were made available online. 

Related levy funds

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Funding statement:
This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the voluntary financial support of the avocado industry.

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2010. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).