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Completed project

Enhancing the export performance of Australian mandarins by improving flavour quality (CT12023)

Key research provider: The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Publication date: Friday, June 12, 2015

What was it all about?

Mandarins are becoming increasingly popular with consumers and plantings in Australia have increased. While this has prompted a greater focus on export marketing, little is known about consumer attitudes towards the flavour quality of mandarins.

The purpose of this project was to develop a better understanding of the flavour profile and consumer expectations of Australian mandarins in the Chinese market – the fastest growing market for mandarins.

This project, which ran from 2013 into 2015, investigated changes in Murcott mandarins following export.

There were three components to the work…

  • Fruit was subjected to simulated shipment and shelf life and then evaluated by a trained panel in Australia

  • A shipment of Murcott mandarins sent from Australia to Beijing was tracked and fruit performance and consumer reaction was assessed. Mandarins at Chinese retailers were also randomly selected and the fruit flavour quality was assessed.

  • Mandarins subjected to simulated shipment and shelf life were evaluated by Chinese consumers who lived in Australia.

  • A test that measures ethanol content in Murcott fruit juice was developed 

Key findings were…

  • Coating fruit with carnauba wax did not affect fruit juice flavour, soluble solids, or acids but was associated with higher juice ethanol content than the non-coated mandarins

  • Juice from wax-coated fruit tasted over-ripe and had musty or mouldy off-notes compared to the juice from non-wax-coated fruit

  • The intensity of off-flavours increased with export temperature and time

  • Consumers preferred the flavour of wax-coated fruit over non-coated fruit and apparently were not influenced by the ethanol content of the fruit juice

  • Consumers did, however, detect a loss in flavour quality of stored fruit versus freshly-harvested samples which suggests the presence of flavour defects other than ethanol

  • Fruit pre-treated with a carnauba wax that was followed to China was found to have a superior peel shine and to lose less weight but it developed a higher ethanol content than non-coated mandarins

  • Chinese consumers surveyed in Shanghai and Beijing preferred the appearance and lower acid flavour of the non-coated fruit over wax-treated fruit and did not comment on ethanol flavours

This study highlighted that Australian mandarins can lose considerable flavour quality during export to China. While the fruit ethanol content was closely related to flavour deterioration in mandarins, our data suggest that other factors are causing the perceived flavour loss.

Further research is needed to identify the specific causes of flavour loss. 

Related levy funds


Funding statement:
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2015. 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)).