Mangoes are an attractive traditional fruit produced in quantity in Thailand. Many Thai varieties have been produced, and from time to time overseas varieties have been grown. In addition to the major local market, quite a substantial export trade has grown up which is of economic importance to the country. The export trade had grown up somewhat arbitrarily. So a clear opportunity was perceived to look more systematically at what was available, and to seek, using quantitative techniques, to describe and determine those varieties that were most attractive to overseas customers, so that overseas sales could be further expanded and marketing improved. It was product development through systematic selection and improvement, with particular reference to consumers and their preferences.
Planning of the development was a collaborative undertaking between the Thai Departments of Agriculture and Agriculture Extension, researchers at Khon Kaen and Kasetsart Universities, and large mango growers and exporters. After discussion, the main brief for the study was determined as:
• select the most suitable ripe and fresh varieties for export to three markets, Japan, China, and the Middle East;
• find the best potential distribution channels; and
• develop suitable brand names for the selected varieties.
This was to be based on consumer preference studies, and also supported by characterisation of the chemical properties such as aroma and volatility, and physical properties such as shape, and stone size and distribution, which would be correlated with the consumer preferences. The outcome would then provide information on the relationships between customers' preferences and measurable attributes of the fruit, which could be used by growers, plant selectors and breeders, and exporters and marketers, to develop the Thai mango export industry.
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