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Aussies not keen on ‘musky’ aftertaste of common papaya

The results of a recent taste test and sensory profile proved that more than half (55%) of Australians prefer papaya (also known as paw paw) to be a dark, burnt orange colour, and smooth and velvety in texture with a sweet aftertaste, similar to a ripe rockmelon. The results came from a survey of 101 Australians conducted in Brisbane on February 11, to determine what consumer taste and sensory preferences are when it comes to the fruit consumers tend to either love or hate.

The results are interesting because one of the most common varieties grown in Australia, the yellow flesh Hybrid 1B, came in least favourite. “The papaya trial sensory work acts as a tool for industry to better plan and direct their breeding programs to traits preferred by customers,” says a spokesperson from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Whether or not growers make the most of the information they have been given is yet to be determined, however the Department of Agriculture said that the project highlighted the opportunity for growers to capitalize and increase the size of the market. The realization of that opportunity will depend on growers’ willingness to increase plantings of the preferred varieties. 

That might require them having more confidence in reliability and quality of the product, as well as post harvest disease control, which can be an issue at certain times of the year, according to the spokesperson.

The papaya industry is dominated by a few producers who have shown the ability to take on system improvements rapidly where the economic returns will be worth their while, according to the spokesperson, which is just as well considering that the preferred variety was not the most readily available.

The stand out from the trial was the ‘GC Red’ variety, which had most of the characteristics described as desirable by participants in the study.

Yan Disczbalis, principal horticulturalist with the DAFF, also said that this study is one of the first times consumer expectations will be able to direct the future market, rather than simply getting what producers grow.

This type of taste profile work is commonly conducted on overseas markets, as it was by the mango industry and the citrus industry as a way of investigating the Chinese market and looking for opportunities to increase exports.

For more information
Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries