The 'Oksana Xenia' is a relatively new pear variety in Europe. It can, however, be traced back to 1968 when a hybrid was developed between the Triomphe de Vienne and the Krieren in Moldavia. The Xenia pear has been available to consumers since 2010. The sales season starts in October and runs through to July, at the latest. Xenia Europe was at the Margriet Winterfair to promote this variety. "Since the fair is held at the beginning of the season, it was the logical choice for us to focus attention on our pears at this consumer fair", says Bernd Feenstra of Xenia Europe.
Xenia Europe, which is based in the Netherlands, is the chain partner that has been marketing the 'Oksana Xenia' pear variety under the Xenia brand name since 2010. This sales organisation maintains contact with growers and ensures the centralised marketing of these pears. Xenia Europe's main objective is to get the highest possible net price for the Xenia farmers.
The Margriet Winterfair was held at in the Netherlands at the end of November 2017 and attracted more than 70 000 visitors over six days. The event also received a lot of media attention from various media outlets such as Linda, Libelle, Margriet, Flair and Viva. This meant a total of more than 2,6 million Dutch women were reached. Xenia Europe held pear tasting at the fair and also did market research among 195 people. Bernd: "We chose the Margriet Winterfair because of its target group. This fair is visited primarily by middle-class consumers."
He continues: "By being present at this consumer fair, we increased our brand awareness. We also introduced thousands of consumers to the taste and convenience of the Xenia pear. An additional benefit was that we gained much more insight into the motivation for purchasing pears. I, for instance, thought Dutch consumers did not think products' origin was all that important. By being at this fair, I, however, discovered that Dutch origin is very important to our target group. We also got to learn that most consumers find our pears to be tasty, but that they sometimes find it troublesome to eat pears. With, or without, the peel but mostly because they cannot see when the pear is ripe."
The tasters' quotes were notable: "Can I eat your pear, unpeeled, while I'm out and about?"; "I am a big fan of the Comice, but my husband likes Conferences more. This is in-between"; "Pears are always so difficult. They are either too green or too soft"; "It is not so grainy"; "The same bite as an apple but with a sweet pear taste"; "Nice sweet, fresh taste"; "It tastes better than the outside suggests"; "Where can I buy your pears?".
Green or yellow is a matter of taste
The first question asked of the research participants was: "What kind of pear do you prefer eating?" Here, two answers stood out - Green (fresh and crunchy) or Yellow (sweet and completely ripe). From this result, it seems there are two distinct groups of pear eaters: The group that likes to eat them straight away and the group that allows them to ripen more first. There is a slight leaning toward green, crunchier pears rather than ripe yellow ones. "When a mother and daughter came to our stand, I noticed that the mother more often preferred the yellow, sweeter pears while the daughter would give preference to the crunchier pears. Fortunately, the feedback was that both types tasted good."
Medium sized pears preferred
The second question was: "What size pears do you prefer buying?" The choices were Small (65-70 mm), Medium (72-80 mm) and Large (82-90 mm). Since the pears were presented by size, the respondents could make a visual choice. The first choice was for medium pears, followed by the smaller and then the larger size.
Raymond van Ojen and Pieter van Rijn at the NFO Knowledge Day
Consumers prefer eating pears as a whole
The third and fourth questions were about how people prefer to eat pears: Question 3: "How do you generally use pears?" From the answers to this question, it became clear that consumers (98.3%) prefer eating pears as a whole. The fourth question was about whether people eat them peeled or unpeeled. Here, 52,3% answered that they preferred their pears peeled and 47,7% would rather eat them unpeeled.
"In Italy, pears are used in dishes such as risotto and salads or as garnishing on a pizza. But Dutch consumers only eat pears as a whole. It must be tasty, ripe and convenient for the consumer. Convenience is becoming increasingly important", concludes Bernd.
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