Physical, sensory and consumer analysis of eating quality and appearance of pear genotypes among South African consumers
The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) Infruitec-Nietvoorbij, South Africa, aims to breed new European pear cultivars with a local as well as export market potential. They are focused on a range of blushed cultivars from early to late season that do not lose their red skin colour in high temperature conditions. Important eating quality characteristics that are used as selection criteria are high sugar content (sweet taste) and a strong pear flavour. We used descriptive sensory analysis, consumer preference and physical maturity measurements to determine the preference of pear appearance and taste among South African pear consumers. Our research showed that yellow, green and lightly coloured blushed pears were preferred and important sensory attributes were pear flavour, sweet taste, melting character, juiciness and a soft texture. Good flavour and texture are the most important positive attributes. Mealiness and hardness were the main negative attributes. Hence, it appears that the ARC breeding objectives are very well aligned with the preference of South African consumers. The findings were also consistent with international studies that indicated high pear flavour, sweetness, melting texture and juiciness as the most preferred sensory attributes in European pears. Therefore, preference studies can be conducted locally on new cultivars for the export market. Considering the preference for lighter red blush, breeders may find that new cultivars that accumulate more red pigment and are therefore less prone to colour loss may have a lower preference among consumers.