There is nothing more enticing than walking into a room in which you know you are going to be cooped up in for several hours to discover that the catering fairies have been kind to you and put a plate of your favourite fruit on the menu. Strawberries and blueberries. Yum. What happens to me though is this: I see the fruit, I like the look, I anticipate the taste – and then I often get terribly disappointed when the taste I anticipated fails to materialise in my mouth! It does not stop there either. Next comes a quick mental assessment of why I am disappointed in the taste of whatever just passed my tongue. Typically a few options come to mind, such as product being immature when picked, chill damage, too much time taken between harvest and my mouth, rough handling and so on. That in turn takes me back to how I think the fruit ought to be tasting in order to keep me from getting disappointed.
When I think about all of this some more, I get to the only conclusion possible. Fruit – and not just berryfruit either – is meant to be eaten when the fruit is ripe. Best way to eat fruit is straight off the tree or from the plant as that represents the greatest chance to get a ripe piece of fruit. We live in the days of complex supply chains though, all aimed at optimising the supply and demand equation, at best from local grower to local store, at worst across a couple of continents and half a dozen time zones. Picking fruit ripe is therefore not an option unless one is prepared for ‘fruit salad’ at the receiving end. In the absence of that option, more attention ought to be paid to technology solutions that could be put to use to achieve a more consistent ripe and flavour-some experience for consumers. That is the only way to ensure demand for fruit remains strong and grows. The way the kiwifruit industry deploys NIR technology and the way the Avocado industry can differentiate its offer at the Point of Sale are good starting points.