by Isobel Dopta for Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, a ‘Certified Good Food Fighter

A new approach to horticulture research at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre is making a difference to Canadian food and wine businesses. Launched in 2007 and located in Vineland Station, Ontario, Vineland is an independent, not-for-profit organization in the business of fruit and vegetable, grape and wine, and flower and plant research.

Areas of research specialty include consumer behaviour, market economics and new product and plant variety development. Applied genomics and production laboratories lead much of the discovery work. Nation-wide consumer panels then offer food industry partners an efficient way to test new products and assess market opportunities.

This past summer a partnership with Longo’s led to in-store consumer testing of a new, numbered peach variety developed at Vineland. Dr. Jay Subramanian, Vineland’s fruit breeder and Dr. Isabelle Lesschaeve, consumer insights and product innovation expert put together a research strategy to solve the question of what motivates consumers to purchase peaches and furthermore what would motivate subsequent purchases.

This peach is a particularly interesting variety. Known as a white-fleshed Clingstone it eats like an apple, is fragrant and is bigger than the average peach. It is a wonderful to eat fresh or for cooking as part of a menu. White-fleshed peaches are already grown in California and to a lesser degree in China but not in any concerted way in Canada. The white flesh peach represents approximately 30% of all peach varieties available in the marketplace and segments of the population clearly prefer this type of peach.

Although not yet commercialized, this numbered peach variety is being grown on experimental plots at Vineland and on a small trial basis with a few growers in the Niagara Region of Ontario. What is exciting about this peach is that it will soon be available to Ontario consumers and we already understand which consumers prefer it and why. Not to mention, this is a great made-in-Canada story.

Look for more news abur research and innovation at Vineland at vinelandresearch.com.