The University of Florida’s (UF) Center for Public Issues and Education (PIE Center) is seeking to increase the marketability of Florida peaches. It hopes to do that through a marketing plan based on research to identify barriers among growers, shippers and consumers.
In recent years the acreage of peaches in Florida has grown, but the popularity of Georgia and South Carolina peaches has overshadowed the entrance of the Florida peach into the consumer marketplace. “The Florida peach is unique compared to other southern peaches; it tends to be smaller and less juicy, but has a great taste,” said Joy Rumble, one of the leading researchers. “We submitted this grant proposal because of the need to increase awareness and preference for Florida peaches among consumers so that the industry is able to remain viable and continue to grow.”
Rumble noted that the study is going very well, and that so far baseline data from consumers (both United States and Florida consumers) has been collected to understand preferences for peaches as well as awareness of Florida peaches. “We have also gathered data from producers and marketers in Florida to better understand the marketing challenges and other barriers facing the Florida peach industry. This data will be compiled to inform a marketing plan to guide the Florida peach industry,” said Rumble.
The study involves faculty and graduate students in the PIE Center, Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, and the Food & Resource Economics Department at UF have assisted in the study. This study is also a part of the 2016-2017 Specialty Crop Block Grants, in collaboration with the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation.
Rumble says that, so far, researchers have discovered a few interesting results from the data collected from over 1,500 U.S. consumers and Florida consumers using an online survey:
o Availability of fresh peaches and price were the top barriers to purchase reported by consumers.
o Consumers reported primarily purchasing peaches in June, July, and August.
o Consumers reported preference for purchasing peaches by the pound, rather than in a pre-packaged 8-pound box.
o More than half of consumers reported they have never seen a peach orchard or handpicked peaches.
o Only 23 percent of U.S. consumers and 35 percent of Florida consumers reported that they knew when Florida peaches were in season.
o Those who reported knowing when Florida peach season was were asked what months. May, June and July were identified as the primary months Florida peaches were in season by U.S. and Florida consumers. In reality, the season is roughly mid-March to early May. So based on this data consumers may not even be looking for Florida peaches until they are going out of season.
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