Submitted to: Agribusiness: An International Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/10/2011
Publication Date: 4/1/2011
Citation: Gao, Z., House, L.O., Gmitter, F.G., Valim, M.F., Plotto, A., Baldwin, E.A. 2011. Consumer preferences for fresh citrus: impacts of demographic and behavioral characteristics. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review. 14(1):23-39. Interpretive Summary: It is of interest to understand consumer preferences as pertains to the many different kinds of citrus fruits available, and what drives those preferences. From 2000 to 2006, per capita consumption of fresh citrus fruit increased by 11.0%, but the relative shares of types of citrus consumed changed. Per capita consumption of the historically dominant citrus fruit, fresh oranges, experienced a continuous decline from 12.4 pounds to 7.4 pounds from 1990 to 2007. A large consumer panel was conducted to investigate consumer preferences in three US cities. It was found the freshness, flavor and appearance were the most important attributes, but there were differences due to demographics and behavioral variables. No dominant best predictor of consumer preferences was found, but the information is useful for the development of marketing strategies.
Technical Abstract: From 2000 to 2006, per capita consumption of fresh citrus fruit increased by 11.0%, but the relative shares of types of citrus consumed changed. Per capita consumption of the historically dominant citrus fruit, fresh oranges, experienced a continuous decline from 12.4 pounds to 7.4 pounds from 1990 to 2007 (USDA-ERS 2008a; USDA-ERS 2008b). At the same time, consumption of tangerines steadily increased. To investigate this shift from one citrus fruit to another, we have investigated consumer preferences for citrus products, particularly, determining the most important characteristics of citrus that may play a key role in consumer choice of fresh citrus. Using survey results from three cities in the U.S. on consumer preferences for fresh citrus products, we demonstrate that freshness, flavor and appearance are the most important attributes of fresh citrus. However, heterogeneous preferences exist among consumers. Demographic and behavioral variables also have significant impacts on consumer preferences. One of the most interesting results in this analysis is the reversed impacts of purchase and consumption behavior on consumer ratings of fresh citrus attributes. In addition to identifying the product attributes that most significantly determine consumer choice of fresh citrus, the ratings of these attributes were used to identify clusters of consumers. Results indicate there is no dominant best predictor of consumer preferences. However, it appears there is potential to develop specific marketing strategies based on demographics.