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Has apple storage really altered in 90 years?

Apples still represent one of the most important fresh produce types within the fresh fruit and vegetable category. Standard quality control for apple fruit is usually based on setting a numerical lower limit for firmness, soluble solids content, starch pattern index, colour and mass. All these factors affect quality but are commonly measured using rather rudimentary equipment which is known to have some flaws. This said, recent published research has shown that apple firmness is the most important factor in determining consumer acceptance of apples (Harker et al., 2008). Soluble solids content and acidity also play a role in defining consumer preference within specific cultivars. Mealiness is a negative attribute. There has been a positive trend towards consumers choosing to purchase firm/crisp apples, whilst a small proportion still value softer and more aromatic cultivars; these being inherently more challenging to store. However, is the consumer driving the selection of firmer varieties or is it availability (i.e. what they are presented with) and/or standardisation/consistency? Apple quality (the product) is only one aspect which governs consumer choice; price, promotion, place and packaging (the 5 P’s) are also important. In addition, availability is also key. This has been increased through cold storage, ethylene control/suppression and controlled atmosphere storage such that consumers are often faced with fruit from both hemispheres. Consumers thus have to choose (consciously or not) between short to long-term stored fruit (Varela et al., 2008). However, the notion that longer stored produce are less fresh and thus inferior does not always stand true. Time is only one factor which governs postharvest quality. The storage conditions, postharvest treatments and handling are the defining criteria which ultimately affect quality.... Read more