What do Eastern consumers want?

Prof. Miguel Gómez, team member in the Dyson School of Applied economics is determining what qualities Eastern consumers look for in their broccoli, and what variation from the Western standard they accept. The results will inform the breeding process, and perhaps identify types that will be well accepted in the US East Coast that are not accepted in East Asia.

With graduate student Xiaoli Fan, he is running auctions of broccoli types to asses consumer’s relative willingness to pay for different appearances.

Consumers were presented with three types of broccoli for consideration. A: New type with large beads and lighter green; grown in New York. B: Perfect appearance by current standards, but has been shipped across country; grown in California. C: Conventional broccoli with mixed large and small flower buds, a defect common in the East; grown in New York.
Consumers at each station have small parboiled samples of each broccoli. Many find that the local broccoli has a milder and fresher flavor.
Xiaoli Fan (right), a doctoral student on the project, leads the experiment. Graduate assistant Adeline Yeh presents head of the three types to consumers for inspection as they prepare to bid.
Consumers on the panel are members of the community. Students were excluded, since they were not considered representative broccoli purchasers.

Commercial breeder visits

The commercial breeders on the project are inspecting trials this late summer, while the differences in quality are most apparent. Brassica breeder Cees Sintinie of Bejo (right front) stopped in Geneva as part of his North American tour. He was accompanied by his colleague Jan van der Heide (rear) when he visited with Phillip Griffiths (left). Characteristic of this summer, the rain was pouring. But rain does not slow this group.