Consumers’ convenience kick is affecting how shoppers perceive vegetable freshness, but proper storage still remains the best way to keep vegetables fresher for longer, according to leading vegetable industry body AUSVEG.
New consumer research, undertaken as part of the Project Harvest tracking study commissioned by Horticulture Innovation Australia, suggests that the package formats developed for convenience and ease of use are also the formats which consumers expect to have the lowest shelf-life.
“We see these lesser expectations even for products which have had minimal processing, like pre-packed bags of carrots, which are expected to stop being fresh three days sooner than carrots sold individually – despite both products being whole carrots,” said AUSVEG National Manager – Communications Shaun Lindhe.
“There may be an association in consumers’ minds that makes them think that because they’re buying these products for more or less immediate use, they’re only going to stay fresh for that period of time.”
“It’s important to note that on the whole, storage practices have more of an impact on the freshness of vegetables than whether or not they’ve been pre-chopped. By following good storage habits both before and after their veggies have been chopped, consumers can make sure they get the most out of their purchases.”
“Some of these differences may also be linked to size – for example, there are huge gaps between how long consumers expect a whole pumpkin to last compared to smaller portions,” said Mr Lindhe.
“That could suggest that it’s also a question of visual impact. The smaller the product is compared to the original vegetable, the more consumers might assume the processing affects its longevity.”
While consumers expect a whole pumpkin to stay fresh for two weeks after purchase, they only expect a half pumpkin to last for a little over seven days, and they believe pre-packed pumpkin slices will only stay fresh for around five and a half days.
Other disparities identified by the research include a gap of two and a half days between freshness expectations for whole celery compared to pre-cut celery sticks, and a two-day difference in expectations for whole corn compared to cut corn.