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  Eur.J.Hortic.Sci. 80 (1) 3-10 | DOI: 10.17660/eJHS.2015/80.1.1
ISSN 1611-4426 print and 1611-4434 online | © ISHS 2015 | European Journal of Horticultural Science | Original article

Consumer responses to fruit quality of 'Jonagold' apples treated with postharvest application of 1-methylcycloprope (1-MCP) under air and controlled atmosphere storage conditions

J.N. Wünsche and C.S. Heyn
University of Hohenheim, Institute of Crop Sciences, Section Crop Physiology of Specialty Crops, Stuttgart, Germany

SUMMARY
1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) to retain quality of ‘Jonagold’ apples of different harvest maturities and stored in air and controlled atmosphere conditions were investigated in three consecutive seasons in Southwest Germany. This cultivar is widely planted and most popular in this fruit-growing region. Fruit samples were removed from storage at bi- or three-monthly intervals during maximal 9 months storage periods. Thereafter, fruit were frequently evaluated over up to 10 days at 20°C to link instrumental data of ex-store fruit quality to sensory descriptions from consumer preference surveys. Fruit quality declined with storage duration; however, the degree of quality loss was much less severe under all storage conditions when fruit was treated with 1-MCP. Ethylene-dependent ripening processes such as softening, yellowing of the background colour and loss of titratable acidity were significantly more reduced in 1-MCP-treated ‘Jonagold’ apples than in untreated controls, concomitantly with lower rates of fruit respiration and fruit ethylene production. Data showed a good agreement between instrumental measurements and consumer scores for all evaluated fruit quality parameters. We conclude that flesh firmness and titratable acidity were the most important drivers of consumer preference. Interestingly, consumers, regardless of age and gender, preferred 1-MCP-treated fruit held in ultra-low oxygen storage. Although sensory evaluation studies are time-consuming and might have some flaws when attempting to generate representative results from consumer taste panels, they are a useful tool to assess product quality and consumer preference.

Keywords instrumental fruit quality measurements, consumer preference, sensory evaluation

Significance of this study

What is already known on this subject?

  • It was previously shown that postharvest application of 1-MCP results in improved retention of fruit quality attributes of apple during storage and subsequent shelf-life period by delaying fruit softening, loss of titratable acidity and background colour changes. However, consumer perception of 1-MCPtreated apples is largely unknown.
What are the new findings?
  • There was a good agreement between sensory output and instrumental data for the varying fruit quality attributes. Most consumers participating in the survey in Southwest Germany preferred 1-MCPtreated ‘Jonagold’ apples stored in ULO, regardless of gender and age.
What is the expected impact on horticulture?
  • Consumer tests are important to realize consumers’ perception on the development of new products or technologies and to guarantee knowledge-based decision-making processes by industry wide uptake and distribution.

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E-mail: jnwuensche@uni-hohenheim.de  

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Received: 26 September 2014 | Accepted: 12 December 2014 | Published: 26 February 2015 | Available online: 26 February 2015

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