Postharvest banana study tour ΓÇôUC Davis fruit ripening and retail workshop, 2014 (BA13701)
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What was it all about?
Research had shown that banana appearance and ripeness was important to consumers. Banana ripening was the process by which the fruit changes from a mature hard green state to a ripe state ready for consumption. Correctly managing the ripening process was therefore important in delivering bananas that offered consumers satisfaction.
Even though ripening was a very important part of the banana supply chain, the Australian Banana Industry relied on a relatively small group of people that had the skills to ripen quality bananas. At the time, the industry has no recognised programs in place to provide ripening education and development. As the Australian banana category grew there was the risk that the already limited skills base would become further diluted and this could jeopardize the quality of bananas the industry offers to consumers. The Banana Industry needed educate ripeners and provide them the opportunity to acquire new knowledge.
Study tour project BA13701 attended the UC Davis Fruit Ripening and Retail Handling Workshop, which was held in Davis CA (March 25th and 26th, 2014). The project also included field tour of a ripening facility and supermarkets around the Sacramento area (March 27th, 2014) to gain knowledge about fruit ripening and insights into the ripening industry and retailing in the USA.
From our observations the researcher determined that the Banana Industry in the USA faced the same shortage of technical knowledge and experience that Australia did. The recent introduction of ripening other fruit lines was placing further pressure on ripeners knowledge, not to mention limited capacity in ripening facilities. Retailers and Industry in the USA were also placing increasingly more emphasis on ripening to improve consumer satisfaction because of the way it impacted on fruit flavour and shelf life.
The study tour group observed that the Banana and Ripening Industry in the USA had responded to these pressures by working in conjunction with educational institutions such as UC Davis to provide the opportunity for ripeners to acquire technical knowledge. Due to the growth expected in the Australian Banana category, the industry was facing a potential shortage of skilled ripeners. Through investment and development in ripening training the aim was to prevent a shortage of ripening knowledge in Australia, improve the offer from the Banana Industry to consumers and see sustainable category growth by increased consumption.
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This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the financial support of MacKay’s Banana Marketing Co.
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