The fresh-market muscadine industry has been growing over the past decade in North Carolina (NC). Currently, more than 500 acres of commercial fresh-market muscadine vineyards are either in production or recently planted. More than 20 fresh-market muscadine cultivars are available and used by growers in NC. Fresh NC muscadines are sold whole-sale across the entire East Coast, and several muscadine U-Pick operations exist in NC as well. However, questions remained as to which issues are important to the fresh-market muscadine grower community in NC. This survey was conducted online from June 30, 2019 to July 15, 2019. The survey was developed in Qualtrics and distributed through email. The survey was completely anonymous and asked for the largest issues of concern for muscadine fresh-market growers. Marketing and consumer education as well as the development of extended seasons through new breeding material were among the highest ranked priorities for muscadine growers in NC. We collected a total of 24 valid responses and the results of this survey will be used to support extension efforts in the future and address the needs of the North Carolina fresh-market muscadine industry.
The fresh-market muscadine market in the Southeast is growing for about a decade, fueled by higher demands in combination with newer muscadine cultivars with highly favorable eating characteristics and taste profiles, such as ‘Supreme’ or ‘Paulk’. Moreover, the recent development of seedless muscadine-vinifera hybrids is believed to extend the reach of muscadines even further in the future. However, the size of fresh-market muscadine growers in NC varies from small local pick your own (U-Pick) muscadine farms to large whole-sale operations, shipping fresh muscadines across the entire East Coast. With this relatively young and growing industry, it was our intent to find out what are the most pressing issues specifically for fresh-market muscadine growers in NC.
A completely anonymous Qualtrics survey was conducted online from June 30, 2019 to July 15, 2019. No incentives or prices were given for completion of the survey, and the survey did not collect any identifiable information. The survey link was distributed through email and list-servs and the N.C. Cooperative Extension system. We collected a total of 24 valid responses.
Question 1: What is your biggest concern for fresh market muscadines? Please rank from most important to least important (n=24)
Potential concerns for fresh-market muscadine production was ranked from lowest to highest. The top concerns are marketing/consumer education, food safety and quality of muscadines (Table 1).
Table 1: Displays the average rank of the biggest concerns for fresh market muscadines
|Food Safety and Quality||2|
|Fruit storage and shipping||3|
Question 2: The breeding of new varieties can change a whole market. Which of the traits do you find most important for future varieties?
This question asked fresh-market muscadine growers which of the three traits they find most important in future muscadine varieties: seedlessness, cold hardiness or fruiting habit to extend the season. Figure 2: Number of responses of importance of fresh-market traits in future varieties.
Question 3: If you think about the fresh-market muscadine industry as a whole, which of those factors are most important to you?
Figure 3: Number of responses. Consumer education and maintaining/improving fruit quality we the two most important factors for fresh-market muscadine growers.
Question 4: Are there any other concerns you would like to share?
- marketing and advertising
- building a customer base interested in picking their own is most pressing
- encouraging people to be creative with their fruit (muscadines are so much more veritable than just for eating)
- needing more information out about the health benefits of the Muscadine
- grape toxicity in dogs
- having a network of trained laborers available for small producers
- more breeding of new varieties
- public awareness for continued growth,
- shelf stability after picking,
- connecting fresh market growers with wineries/breweries that will purchase our grapes
Marketing and consumer education were the most important issues to growers, as well as the need to increase the fresh-market season through improved muscadine varieties. Further, comments were made to expand the topics around muscadines such as education on health benefits, marketing, U-Pick and connections between fresh-market growers and processers. The results of this survey will be used to support extension efforts in the future and address the needs of the North Carolina fresh-market muscadine industry.
Publication date: May 13, 2022
Revised: May 13, 2022
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