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Historical document

Avocado retail quality surveys - phase 2 (AV08034)

Key research provider: Avocados Australia Limited (AAL)
Publication date: November, 2011

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Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.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?

Consistent fruit quality continues to be a barrier to increasing avocado consumption in the domestic market. In order to improve this situation, the avocado industry made significant investment in consumer research in the 6 years leading up to 2010 to gain a better understanding of the consumers and their purchasing habits. This research helped guide industry research and development (R&D) and promotion.

Consumer research identified three key areas where industry performance needed to be improved: internal quality, maturity, and ripeness. Through research, the industry responded by developing guidelines and benchmarks in regard to premium grade avocados, recommending that:

  • Dry Matter (DM) for Hass should be 23 per cent or above,
  • DM for Shepard should be 21 per cent or above
  • Ripeness levels should be between 0.65 and 0.45 kilogram force
  • Damage to flesh should not exceed 10 per cent.

In order to benchmark industry’s performance against these standards this program was developed and two systems implemented:

  • Monthly fruit quality surveys were conducted in 16 stores each in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. A random sample of avocados (up to 240 pieces of fruit – either 0, 10 or 15 from each store depending on ripeness levels) each month were purchased and assessed for internal quality blemishes including bruising, internal rots, vascular browning, diffuse flesh discolouration and stem end rot.
  • Dry Matter Percentage (DM%) testing was conducted each month from randomly selected fruit from the Sydney markets to measure fruit maturity. Up to 220 individual avocados were sampled each month and the aggregated results of these tests were reported on the Avocados Australia website. Results for individual growers or packers were also sent to those businesses.

Outcomes of the program:

  • Overall internal quality in Hass and Shepard improved since 2008 when surveys began.
  • Up until 2010 bruising was always the most significant quality issue however in 2010 a reduction in the level of bruising resulted in the overall level of damage decreasing and the significance of bruising as the cause of internal damage reduced below body rots for the first time since testing began.
  • Bruising was the most significant issue in Shepard avocados.
  • Coles and Woolworths stores surveyed improved levels of total damage.
  • Independent supermarkets had the least improvement and consistently the highest level of damage.
  • Independent fruit and vegetable stores always had either the lowest or second lowest level of damage.
  • Regarding DM%, all regions at the beginning of their seasons had fruit that falls short of the 23 per cent dry matter standard for Hass (generally with the exception of the Tristate and Western Australian growing regions).

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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 2011. 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)).