Opinion: 'flavor is more important than price'

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Opinion: 'flavor is more important than price'

By FreshXperts expert and Innovative Fresh managing partner Jelger de Vriend.

In 1900 André Michelin published the first edition of the Michelin guide.

Its purpose was to help drivers maintain their cars, find decent lodging and eat well while touring France. The guide began recognizing outstanding restaurants in 1926 by marking their listings with a star.

One star indicated "very good cuisine", a two-star ranking represented "excellent cuisine, worth a detour," while three stars were awarded to restaurants offering "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey".

In the 20's Michelin realized consumers were willing to make a complete journey for exceptional flavor. Not much has changed since then. Michelin stars are today still given for flavor, not for the price, the amount of parking space or the length of the waiting list.

Our consumer monitoring programs repeatedly show that in fresh produce flavor is more important than price. A good example is strawberries. Retail prices of strawberries in the US vary enormously throughout the year, ranging roughly from US$2 to US$5 per lb. However, when consumers are asked to score "value-for-money" of strawberries, the result is hardly affected by the retail price they paid.

When the flavor of strawberries is good, consumers are nearly always satisfied about their purchase; in our programs we find that in strawberries 69% of consumer satisfaction is determined by flavor and only 11% by price.

When the flavor is right, the price is 89% irrelevant.

So how can we benefit from this phenomenon? By simultaneously increasing control over flavor and by intensifying collaboration across the supply chain.

We have to improve our control over flavor of fruits and vegetables. Quality of fresh produce is notoriously variable; it changes per variety, differs between production areas, fluctuates within seasons, and even changes after harvest. Controlling flavor therefore requires continuous monitoring of fresh produce quality. This allows us to make operational decisions based on flavor. Monitoring and controlling flavor have to become part of our operational DNA.

If we want to implement and benefit from a strong flavor strategy, we also need to greatly increase the level of collaboration in our industry. It requires not only a more intense coordination between producers and retailers. We need to look beyond the traditional commercial arena. It also involves seed companies and research groups. A strong flavor strategy will include a deep understanding of the consumer, production methods, varieties and cold chain management.

Flavor is more important than price and consumers are willing to make a journey for exceptional flavor.

Do you have a structured way to monitor flavor in your sales?

We have a structured, effective and affordable program that can help you achieve this.

Contact us if you are interested in learning more about how to achieve flavor assurance in your sales, and how to lead your industry partners in improving flavor to drive business forward in new ways.


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