|J. Daniells, V. O'Keefe, H. Smyth, K. Gething, K. Fanning, P. Telford
|alternative cultivars, Australia, banana, Cavendish, consumer behavior, marketing, sensory studies
Those seeking to bring change to cultivars sold in the banana markets of the world have encountered major difficulties over the years.
Change has been sought because of production difficulties caused by banana diseases such as Fusarium wilt or a desire to invigorate a stagnant market and obtain a competitive advantage by the introduction of diversity of product.
Currently the world banana scene is dominated by cultivars from the Cavendish subgroup with their production in excess of 40% of total world production of banana and plantain combined, and in most western countries Cavendish is synonymous with banana.
But Cavendish production usually necessitates very regular applications of pesticides, particularly fungicides for Mycosphaerella leaf spots control.
So genetic resistance to these and other diseases would be very beneficial to minimizing costs of production, as well as reducing health risks to banana workers and the general population and minimizing impacts on the environment.
In recent years, the overall market sales of some crops, such as tomatoes, have increased by providing diversity of cultivars to consumers.
Can the same be done for banana? Perhaps a better understanding of how we have arrived at our current situation and the forces that have shaped our preference for Cavendish will allow us to plan more strategic crop improvement research which has enhanced chances of adoption by the banana industries of the world.
A scoping study was recently undertaken in Australia to determine the current market opportunity for alternative cultivars and provide a roadmap for the industry to successfully develop this market.
A multidisciplinary team reviewed the literature, surveyed the supply chain, analyzed gross margins and conducted consumer and sensory evaluations of ‘new’ cultivars.
This has provided insight on why Cavendish dominates the market, which is the focus of this paper, and we believe will provide a solid foundation for future progress.
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