Squeeze on citrus taste

Lauren CelenzaCountryman

WA citrus growers can expect their fruit to be tested this season for eating quality.

In a bid by Fruit West and Citrus Australia to have consistency in the market, assessors will be checking acid, juice and sugar levels to enable marketers to ensure all fruit tastes good all the time.

A similar assessment is already underway in the apple, stone fruit and table grape industries.

Bindoon citrus grower and Fruit West member Shane Kay said the project would ensure consumers got a good piece of fruit every time.

“The more you can guarantee the eating quality of the fruit in the market, the less bad experiences will occur, ” he said.

“We want to eliminate the fruit from the market that might not be as good as it could be. So far we have been testing eastern states fruit to see what’s coming in and now we are focusing on WA fruit.

“As time goes on fruit should get better and better and sales will increase.”

Tests are being paid for by levies already collected by the relevant groups and will be carried out by the Department of Agriculture and Food and independent contractors.

“There are surveys being done on consumer preferences to determine a level so then we can say we don’t want to market any fruit below that level, ” Mr Kay said. “The testing process measures the sugar, acid and juice which then gives a sugar/acid ratio and then juice content.”

Mr Kay runs an orchard of 13,000 citrus trees with his wife Bridget in Bindoon.

For the past three weeks the couple have been getting stuck into the 2011 harvest which he said was looking great.

“We should get 600–700 tonnes of mandarins and oranges by November, ” Mr Kay said.

He said that this year many citrus growers had been affected by the dry season but quality was still top notch.

“The fruit grows over summer so the heat and lack of rain affected the size of the fruit so they are a bit smaller than usual, ” he said.

“Many areas have been affected by the dry weather, but quality is still really good.”

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