The Pear Bureau Northwest is planning a study to find out how well consumers like pears that have been treated with MCP (1-methylcyclopropene), which is sold under the brand name SmartFresh. Pears can be treated with MCP after harvest to extend their shelf life and to control scald on sensitive varieties, but, in some cases, treated pears have failed to ripen properly.
Kevin Moffitt, Pear Bureau president, said that Dr. Jim Mattheis, postharvest physiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Wenatchee, Washington, and Dr. Gene Kupferman, retired Washington State University postharvest specialist, will prepare pears for the test, and the consumer testing will be done by the Food Innovation Center in Portland, Oregon.
Pears will be treated in the fall and put into storage for testing in November through January, Moffitt said. Both treated and untreated Bartlett pears will be ripened appropriately so they are at the right softness for eating. Mattheis said that for the MCP-treated pears, this will involve keeping them a week or two in warm temperatures after storage, then a week in cold storage to simulate transportation, and another one to two weeks in warm temperatures before consumers taste them.
Mattheis said that’s a ripening protocol that researchers spent a lot of time developing so they could have ripe MCP-treated fruit to work with, and it might or might not work on a commercial basis.
Consumers will be given slices of pears and asked how well they like them. Moffitt said the objective of the study is to find out whether consumers enjoy treated pears as much as those that have not been treated. It is not designed to assess treatment protocols.
AgroFresh, producer and marketer of SmartFresh, was expected to cosponsor the study.