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Perceived value innovation model for commercial fresh-cut fruits

Mendoza, MLA ORCID: 0000-0001-7417-5602 2021 , 'Perceived value innovation model for commercial fresh-cut fruits', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The market for fresh-cut fruits (FCFs) has grown in the last 40 years due to increasing demand for products characterised with high levels of convenience, nutrient value, safety and natural taste. The commercial success of FCFs, however, is still limited because of the varied consumer value perceptions and product perishability. Market innovation has previously focused on market trends and consumer behaviour to conceptualise new FCFs while technical innovations have focused on extending product shelf-life. This research was to improve the success of new FCFs by developing and testing an innovation model that integrates both market and technical innovations. The research has determined the factors that most influence perceived value (PV) of consumers for FCFs and utilised these factors as the focus of innovation. PV in this context, refers to the consumers’ assessment of the expected product benefits against its projected costs. The Perceived Value Innovation (PVI) model was used to direct the innovation of fresh-cut watermelon (FCW). FCW was the focus of the innovation because it is highly perishable (~6 d shelf-life), which has negative implications for the quality perceptions of consumers.
The PVI model was implemented by first examining the consumer value perceptions and FCF cues (i.e. intrinsic such as colour and flavour, extrinsic such as packaging and label information) through intercept-administered in-store surveys using the best-worst scale method to identify the determinants and deterrents to product choice. Additionally, mini-group and individual in-depth interviews were performed using the laddering technique to understand purchase motivations and identify FCW cues utilised during purchase. Results revealed that product “freshness” and packaging elements such as packaging shape and shelf-life information were the significant product cues and drivers of purchase. Expert interviews and literature searching were then done to improve postharvest processing and packaging techniques using the concepts of“freshness” and “naturalness”.
The consumer information was utilised to guide and implement the technical innovation through a series of innovation cycles (ICs) in order to develop FCW prototypes. The effects of modifying atmospheric packaging conditions (1st IC) were tested to determine the best conditions for maintaining the fresh quality of cubes. The inclusion of mint leaves (2nd IC) and the effects of post-cut sanitation spray (3rd IC) on freshness, natural image and taste of FCW were also investigated. The three ICs focused on achieving prototypes with the highest overall acceptability scores at the end of the 8-d shelf-life, using a 9-point hedonic scale. Each IC was performed using small-scale consumer panel assessments. Subjective evaluations were then linked to objective instrumental measurements of sensory quality in order to gain meaningful information on how sensory factors contribute to consumer response. Both tests were performed simultaneously after storage for one, six and eight days at each of the three ICs. Investigations were focused on the overall flavour quality, as it deteriorates faster than appearance quality, and is, hence, an appropriate indicator of fruit “freshness”. Storage odour and flavour quality were determined objectively by first identifying the odouractive compounds (OACs) released in the packaging headspace using the gas chromatography-mass spectrometry-olfactometry (GC-MS-O). Identification of OAC was confirmed using headspace solid phase microextraction gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (SPME GC-MS). Identified OAC were screened as chemical markers of "freshness" by correlation to the sensory scores for each treatment. The principal component analysis determined specific compounds (e.g. (E,Z)-3,6-nonadienol and (Z)-3-nonen-1-ol) that positively associated with perceived “freshness” and other compounds (e.g. dimethyl trisulfide and (E,E)-2,4-heptadienal) that were associated with negative perceptions of "freshness". Rapid monitoring of changes in the concentration of chemical markers was also measured using proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS). Volatile profile changes were attributed to the process, packaging and storage variables such as time and temperature. They were tested at each IC and were utilised for improvement of the FCW prototype. Improved prototypes were identified as single washed fresh-cut watermelon cubes (with and without mint leaves), packed under atmospheric and non-perforated film packaging condition.
Confirmation of increased perceived value for FCW was obtained through in-storepurchase and consumption simulations using discrete choice consumer experiment(DCE) and informed consumer testing, respectively. Packaging designs consisting ofvarying container shapes (cup and square) and shelf-life information (with and withoutpacked-on date, in addition to use-by date), were integrated into the improved FCWprototypes resulting in a total of eight actual FCW formats tested. The PV of currentand potential users for these prototypes was investigated at product purchase, consumption and repeat purchase intent stages. Research findings indicated a three-foldimprovement of PV when packed on date (POD) information was on the label inaddition to the mandatory use by date (UBD) information. It served as a cue to assessfreshness and increase confidence in product quality and safety during purchase andhas positively influenced the perceived freshness during consumption. POD was also asignificant factor influencing repeat purchase intent. In the absence of POD, mint leavesserved as a visual stimulus for freshness evaluation, and its combination withwatermelon was highly acceptable (75 % of participants). Variations in packagingshape, however, showed insufficient evidence of PV deviation from purchase toconsumption. Cup was preferred over square packaging during purchase due to volumeperception, even when equal weights were indicated on the label. In contrast, squarepackaging received positive feedback during consumer testing because of more visibleintact cubes.
The PVI model for FCF innovation therefore was able to improve the PV of FCW andprovide evidence of the model’s usefulness to deliver consumer-effective FCFs. Themodel, however, currently lacks consideration of the actual innovation and productioncosts. Nonetheless, the application of the model can be useful to develop leading-edgefood products in comparison to competitor offerings.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Mendoza, MLA
Keywords: Consumers, DCE, fresh-cut, 6C-MS-O, Perceived Value Innovation model, PTR-MS, sensory shelf-life, SPME GC-MS.
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Copyright 2021 the author

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