Byers, P. L.1; Cai, Z.2; Gold, M.A.3; Thomas, A.L.4
1Commercial Horticulture Field Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, Marshfield, MO, 65706
2Assistant Research Professor, University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry, Columbia, MO, 65211
3Research Professor, University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry, Columbia, MO, 65211
4Assistant Research Professor, University of Missouri Southwest Research Center, Mount Vernon, MO, 65712


Establishing Missouri’s Pawpaw Industry: Horticulture, Market Research, and Outreach is a 3-year project led by a multidisciplinary team from the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry and University of Missouri Extension.  Among the project goals is investigation of consumer acceptance and preferences for pawpaw and value-added products.  367 consumers at 4 Missouri farmers markets sampled fresh pawpaw (Asimina triloba) and gluten-free pawpaw muffin in 2019, and completed a survey to gauge familiarity with pawpaw and pawpaw value added products and to understand pawpaw purchasing preferences.  Familiarity with fresh pawpaw and value-added pawpaw products, past pawpaw purchases, and how frequently respondents consumed pawpaw products were measured directly.  Pawpaw purchasing preferences were measured using a discrete choice experiment method.  Descriptive statistics were calculated to capture consumption frequency, consumer preference, and demographic characteristics.   A mixed logit model was used to determine the statistical significance and the effects of the selected attributes on consumer preferences for pawpaw. Survey results indicated that, regarding respondents' experiences in the past, 58% had heard about pawpaw, 31% had eaten pawpaw, and 13% had eaten pawpaw value added food products.  Of respondents, 49% indicated that pawpaw has a banana flavor, 59% indicated a mango flavor, 30% indicated a papaya flavor, and 7% indicated a pineapple flavor; 81% liked eating fresh pawpaw; 65% liked eating pawpaw muffins; 87% indicated they will purchase fresh pawpaw in the future; and 75% indicated they will purchase pawpaw muffins in the future.  Consumers were willing to pay per-pound premiums of $1.34 for organic, $1.07 for pesticide-free, and $1.92 for locally produced pawpaw relative to conventional fruit and fruit for which the region of origin was not identified.  Project results indicated a significant untapped market for fresh and value-added pawpaw products. This study also provides strong evidence of the value of labeling pawpaw products as organic, pesticide-free, and/or locally produced since those products have strong appeal for consumers.

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