• Actinidia chinensis “Hort16A;
  • Actinidia deliciosa “Hayward;
  • conjoint analysis;
  • consumer research;
  • dry matter;
  • fruit size;
  • Japan

Abstract:  Knowledge of the relative importance of food quality attributes in determining consumer purchase intention is critical for robust assessment of economic opportunities for industry growth. The aim of this study is to demonstrate how conjoint analysis methodology that incorporates tasting of fruit can be used to collect such information. Three hundred Japanese consumers took part in research designed to measure the importance of dry matter (DM), size, and price of kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa “Hayward” and Actinidia chinensis “Hort16A”) for purchase intention. Measurement of consumer liking for kiwifruit of different DM content was a key first step. Liking increased as DM increased and was accompanied by increased purchase likelihood/choice probability for kiwifruit. The size of kiwifruit presented to consumers varied from “small” to “extra large.” Consumers liked “mid-sized” kiwifruit over “small” or “extra-large” kiwifruit. Despite these differences in liking, size was of little importance in determining purchase likelihood/choice probability for kiwifruit. Price was a very important factor in determining purchase likelihood/choice probability but was less important than DM content. As price increased, purchase likelihood/choice probability decreased. Beneath these general findings, heterogeneity existed. Some consumers placed more/less importance on the focal purchase drivers than suggested by the aggregate model. Overall, the results suggest that incentive schemes already implemented by industry should consider rewarding high-DM fruit more than fruit size.

Practical Application:  This research has contributed to the New Zealand kiwifruit industry gaining a better understanding of the relative importance consumers place on DM, size, and price of kiwifruit and has resulted in changes to grower incentive schemes. The research approach presented forces consumer to tradeoff attributes of kiwifruit against each other and decide on how important two key quality attributes—DM and size—are relative to each other and relative to price. The application of conjoint analysis in this article can be transferred to other fruits, food, and beverages and help guide consumer-led innovation.