One hundred forty-nine consumers participated in a sensory evaluation, conducted on 14 Nov. 2008, at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, to determine consumer acceptance and perceptions of scab-resistant apples (Malus ×domestica). Consumers were exclusively screened for liking and eating apples. The study provides tree fruit growers and marketers in the mid-Atlantic United States with information on consumer preferences for apples that might substitute for common cultivars that require frequent apple scab pesticide applications. Resistant cultivars are also attractive in organic production systems. During the 10-minute sensory evaluation, panelists rated five scab-resistant apples ['Crimson Crisp', 'GoldRush', NY 75907-49 (NY 49), 'Crimson Topaz', and 'Sundance'] and a commercially available non-resistant cultivar, Jonagold, on appearance, aroma, texture, flavor, and overall liking using a nine-point hedonic scale (9 = "like extremely" and 1 = "dislike extremely"). Three of the four apples tested with a red peel ('Crimson Topaz', NY 49, and 'Crimson Crisp') were rated significantly higher than the other apples on the basis of appearance, receiving mean ratings that were between "like moderately" and "like very much," a rating of 7 and 8, respectively. In regards to texture, 'Crimson Topaz' and 'Crimson Crisp' were significantly higher than 'Jonagold' and NY 49, with mean ratings between "like slightly" and "like moderately." For overall liking scores, 'Crimson Crisp', which was rated between "like slightly" and "like moderately," was not significantly different from 'Crimson Topaz' and 'GoldRush'; however, 'Crimson Crisp' was rated higher than 'Jonagold', NY 49, and 'Sundance'. Panelists also responded to questions regarding their food-purchasing attitudes and behaviors. Sixty-two percent of panelists purchased fresh apples for themselves and/or other household members at least "two or three times a month" during an average year. Only 2.7% responded that they purchased fresh apples "more than once a week." This study of consumer preferences provides an initial assessment of the feasibility of marketing new apple cultivars and organic apples within the mid-Atlantic U.S. region. Those that performed well in the sensory evaluation should be candidates for additional market research.
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