Developing guidelines for Ripe and ready pear ripening (AP08045)
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Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.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?
Consumer studies demonstrated a higher preference for ripened pears over unripe pears. To exploit these preferences, the ‘Ripe & Ready’ and ‘Perfectly Ripe’ brands were established for Woolworths and Coles. The sale of pre-ripened pears was seen as a value adding opportunity for pear growers and packers by supplying ‘Packham’ pears with improved eating quality. However, surveys of fruit quality at retail outlets found major inconsistencies in ripeness and quality.
This project was initiated in 2008 to determine if ripening procedures at the time contributed to these inconsistencies. This was achieved by visiting and reviewing the ripening procedures of seven ripening facilities servicing retailers in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. These site visits revealed irregularities in temperature management, ethylene dosage, and monitoring of ripening. Immediate improvements could be achieved by implementing forced-air systems to warm the fruit before ripening treatment, and likewise to cool the fruit after ripening treatment. The ripening facilities were also yet to optimise the ripening temperature and ethylene dosage to produce an aromatic flavour and buttery texture characteristic of ‘Packham’ pears.
The different procedures used by ripening facilities contributed significantly to the variable ripeness and quality observed in retail outlets. Industry-wide improvements in ripening protocols were needed to improve the consistency of the eating experience by consumers, so that ultimately pear sales and prices could be lifted through increased consumer demand. The researcher suggested workshops and working groups be established for pear ripeners and retail representatives to improve procedures for ripening, monitoring quality, inventory management, transport, retail presentation and waste management. They also recommended further research be undertaken to develop an optimised industry-wide protocol tailored for ‘Packham’ pears.
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This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the financial support of the apple & pear industry.
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