Research shows that many consumers aren’t able to identify individual varieties of some of their favourite vegetables, with peak industry body Ausveg warning that these findings suggest Australians could be missing out on the benefits of tailoring their vegetable purchases to their needs.
The Project Harvest report, produced by market research agency Colmar Brunton, shows that more than a third of Australian consumers can’t name a type of chilli, and more than half aren’t able to recall a specific variety of pea.
“Even for some of their favourite vegetables, we’ve found that consumers have difficulty recalling different varieties of those vegetables, which suggests that they’re not familiar with the different options that are available to them,” said Ausveg spokesperson Shaun Lindhe.
“With many vegetables, different varieties offer their own individual flavour and texture profiles, which can make a big difference for consumers in getting the most enjoyment out of their vegetable purchases,” said Mr Lindhe.
“For example, a bird’s eye chilli is well-suited to Thai food, and is far spicier than a jalapeno pepper, which is commonly used in Mexican cooking, while serrano peppers are great for fresh salsas.”
“Consumers who aren’t aware of these differences in heat and flavour could be missing out. Someone might avoid chilli after eating a bird’s eye or a habanero chilli and finding it too hot, and while they may enjoy the milder flavour of a jalapeno, they’re not going to try them out unless they know they have other options.”
The report also shows that Australians are able to identify particular varieties of some vegetables, with consumers commonly able to identify iceberg, cos and rocket lettuce varieties. Ausveg believes this level of awareness sets a model for consumer education about other vegetable varieties.
“While there are obvious visual differences between lettuce varieties, we believe that the taste differences between them – and consequently, their different uses in meals – have been a major factor in consumers learning the difference between varieties,” said Mr Lindhe.
“Consumers understand that rocket and cos lettuce are more bitter than iceberg lettuce, for example. This means that they’re more likely to use rocket or cos if they’re after that flavour profile, while shoppers who might want some crunch in a salad or sandwich but want to avoid the bitter taste know they can use iceberg lettuce instead.”
“We encourage consumers to explore the differences in flavour and texture for varieties of other vegetables – they may find they like something new, or might just discover a new twist on an old favourite.”
Project Harvest is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia using the National Vegetable Levy and funds from the Australian Government.