A tastier California navel orange will hit the market this season, thanks to seven years of consumer research that has resulted in the all-new California Standard.

The California Standard is the new standard by which all California navels will be measured, in an effort to ensure a better navel orange eating experience and better sales results.

Previously, California navels were required to meet a ratio measurement, which the industry has now shown to be an ineffective predictor of eating quality. The new California Standard instead measures the balance between brix (sweetness) and acidity, which is a superior indicator of sweetness and taste.

Through field testing, it is anticipated that The California Standard will significantly improve eating quality and sales, without impacting availability.

“We realized that we needed to strengthen our position in the marketplace and pay as much attention to the inside of the fruit as we have to the outside,” noted Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual. “We, as an industry, took it upon ourselves to do the research, and find a solution that will benefit the grower and the consumer. The California Standard is that solution.”

The California Standard is the result of consumer research conducted by California Citrus Mutual, the California Citrus Research Board, the University of California and USDA/Agricultural Research Service. The taste studies concluded that Brix minus Acid is a better predictor of flavor than the previous sugar-to-acid ratios. The new Standard was recommended by the California Citrus Mutual, supported by the citrus industry and ultimately adopted into regulation by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

For California Citrus Mutual board chairman Tom Wollenman, The California Standard means that “consumers will receive a product early in the season that has a higher level of flavor acceptability. A better indicator of good flavor is the essence of the Standard.”

Technically, the formula for The California Standard is (Brix – (TA*4))*16.5. What that means for the broker, the retailer and the consumer is a navel orange that is tastier – and more consistently tastier, Nelsen added.

The consumer-based research documented several key points that led to the development and adoption of The California Standard.

• Competition in the produce aisle has increased and fresh fruit consumption has increased, while fresh orange consumption has dropped

• Early season navels tend to have low customer satisfaction

• A positive eating experience would cause 65 percent of consumers to eat more navels

• The California Standard replaces 35 percent of less-tasty fruit with fruit that meets consumer expectations

• The California Standard exhibits a 90 percent+ accuracy in determining purchase intent.

“With The California Standard we can deliver good fruit at the first delivery, to shorten the repurchase cycle and improve sales,” Nelsen concluded. “It’s all about better fruit at the right time.”

 For information about The California Standard, visit www.thecaliforniastandard.com or contact Joel Nelsen at California Citrus Mutual, 559-592-3790; cell, 559-799-7736.