For apples, looks matter

Have you ever heard the saying “we first eat with our eyes”? When it comes to food, looks matter, and consumers often rely on how fruits and vegetables look as a measure of quality. In fact, in a recent poll consumers said that appearance was one of the top three most important factors when choosing produce.

The quality of fruit and vegetables are based on four things: how it looks, how it tastes, how it feels, and its nutritional value. Apple appearance is no exception to this rule: while flavor and crispness is more important to consumers overall, how the apples look on the shelf are the key to driving the initial purchase. We often talk about minor bruises that influence quality and appearance, but there’s even more that goes into a good-looking apple.

When it comes to apples, color and size have been found to be the important visual attributes for consumers, and varieties are expected to look a certain way. For example, consumers preferred deep red coloring on Red Delicious apples, but did not like blush on Golden Delicious apples because it wasn’t how they expected that variety to look. Even the look lenticels (the ‘pores’ on your apple) matter when choosing apples! A study from our hometown of Summerland, BC asked consumers about lenticels  and found that while consumers have no preference over the number of lenticels, they want them to be smaller than 1mm in diameter. Who knew folks were so picky about how their apples look?!

Produce appearance becomes even more important in sliced fruit where both inside and outside fruit characteristics can be seen. As you might expect, browning is considered a serious defect in sliced fruit, as is dry looking fruit. Luckily, Arctic® apples are nonbrowning, so they stay looking great without the use of preservatives. As a bonus, Arctic® apples won’t have the off taste that can be associated with preservatives, an important factor as sliced fruit is often enjoyed without other ingredients to boost the flavor.

Next time you’re in the produce aisle, consider what makes you choose one apple over another. Your answer might surprise you!

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About Jessica Brady

Jessica hails from the prairie region of Canada and is excited to be working as Manager, Industry Relations & Education for a company that combines two of her favorite things: agriculture and innovation.


  1. In Mexico, jalapeño varieties often produce small patterns of parallel cracks as they ripen. An intrepid plant breeder who knew this would be under genetic control bred a jalapeño that had a perfectly smooth, uncracked skin at peak ripeness. The result? No one bought them, because they took the cracks to be a sign of ripeness, and the new smooth-skinned variety looked less ripe than the others. It just goes to show that even weird consumer preferences must be part of the breeding target!

    • Jessica Brady

      Hi Karl,

      That is a perfect example of how consumer expectations and preferences can effect choice in stores, thanks for sharing!

      Have a great day,