Table grape consumer acceptance and attitudes (TG19003)
What's it all about?
This investment is providing the table grape industry with valuable information on the behaviours and attitudes of consumers towards table grape quality. There is a focus on providing evidence around consumer acceptance levels throughout the season across different locations and retail channels.
The table grape industry has experienced significant growth over the last seven years, primarily driven by growing export demand. The quality of table grapes in the Australian market has been a key focus area for the industry, with the investment Table grape supply chain quality 2017-2021 (TG17002) providing support to growers and retailers in adopting and developing grapes of optimal eating quality right from the start of the season.
Ongoing measurement and insight into what factors are contributing to consumer acceptability levels is now required to measure the success of quality initiatives and help drive future positioning of table grapes.
During this reporting period, research was undertaken at the beginning of the table grape season in December 2022 on consumer acceptance of green, red, and black grapes at this point in time. 213 households that bought Australian table grapes were sampled during the survey period.
Consumer acceptance of each variety has been reported at a total level and also across the various factors that impact consumer acceptance of each variety. This has allowed areas of improvement to be identified as the season progresses.
Consumer acceptance levels are set at 80 per cent, where consumers either like their grape purchase moderately, very much or extremely.
Consumers that report their experience as being below this acceptance threshold will be monitored across the remainder of the Australian table grape season to determine how long a poor experience precludes them from re-entering the market.
Further mid-season (March 2023) and late season (May 2023) measurements are to be conducted to conclude this program of work.
Homescan Quality Performance Tracker
The results from the Homescan Quality Performance Tracker saw consumer acceptance levels remain above the 80 per cent threshold level set by Hort Innovation for all three dips over the 2021 – 2022 season.
That said, consumer acceptance for all, except black grapes, has been rated lower at the start of this season compared to last season. Acceptance of green grapes was more consistent across the 2020-2021 season but fell to 84 per cent which is substantially lower than at the start of last season (91 per cent). Consumer acceptance of red grapes fell from 88 per cent at the start of 2020-2021 to 84 per cent at the start of this season. Consumer acceptance of black grapes grew over the course of last season but has fallen back to the same level as at the start of last season (89 per cent).
Whilst red grapes had a relatively poorer start to this season, consumer acceptance grew and remained high at 94 per cent at both March and May 2022. Acceptance of green grapes also grew to a peak of 92 per cent but fell back at the end of the season to a strong 90 per cent consumer acceptance level. Consumer acceptance of black grapes, while consistent this season, is not as strong at the end of the season (92%) compared to last year (96 per cent).
The very few consumers who reported a bad experience were monitored to determine how long this experience precluded them from re-entering the Australian table grape category. The relatively poorer start to the season for red and green grapes may well be responsible for a lower rate of return after a bad experienced this year. During the 2020-2021 season almost all (91 per cent) returned at some point. This year it is significantly lower at 63 per cent, showing the importance of good quality product being offered at the beginning of the season.
For green and black grapes consumer focus on taste, flavour balance, juiciness and freshness when rating their overall acceptance. For red grapes flavour balance trumps taste, but firmness of flesh and freshness are also important factors. At the end of the 2021-2022 season all variants were rated well on these aspects.
Seasonal Deep Dive
This year’s seasonal deep dive again focused on the recent path to purchase of those that had bought Australian table grapes in the past four weeks. In addition, some questions were added to understand the impact and importance of different varietals of grapes.
Top-of-mind awareness of grape varieties was negligible with Green Thompson grapes the most well known (4 per cent aware). Even when prompted with different varieties, awareness levels have fallen since last year for many, indicating a role still exists for education. There is also a potential need for better point of sale labelling of grapes as around half did not know the variety of grape they bought over and above green, red or black.
Substantial cross consumption of grapes with other fruits was also noted and that bananas and berry fruits, in particular, are seen as a good substitute for grape consumption occasions. Grapes are still predominantly bought for snacking, so information and inspiration on wider uses could increase consumption.
The interplay between price and quality is key in this category, being key triggers of purchase and also key barriers to purchasing, or purchasing grapes more often. Supermarkets remain the key channel to focus on to improve the grape buying experience. Most are satisfied but stock levels appear to be more of an issue this year, being relatively important but delivered relatively weaker compared to other factors like the location in-store and ease of finding grapes which is very strong.
The project has progressed in the following areas:
Monitoring has been conducted on consumer attitudes and acceptance levels toward table grapes via the Homescan Quality Performance Tracker survey. The survey found consumer acceptance levels remain above 80 per cent, however lower rates have been documented this season across most grape varieties when comparing to the same time last year. Additional findings suggested that consumer acceptance of black grapes remains the highest.
See the full report of the December 2021 Homescan Quality Performance Tracker
This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Table Grape Fund