Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

A comprehensive evaluation of product quality in the Pacific Whiting (Merluccius productus) and Albacore tuna (thunnus alalunga) industries

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  • In the highly competitive animal protein market, seafood faces increasing pressure to improve and standardize product quality. While there is general consensus that quality can be improved for many seafood products, there is little agreement on the types and levels of characteristics that should define "quality." This is a fundamental problem in the Pacific whiting and albacore tuna industries that indicates a need to comprehensively evaluate species-specific quality characteristics, develop appropriate quality standards, and expand and diversify market opportunities. Quality systems employing appropriate handling and chilling techniques to control time-temperature parameters immediately after harvest and continuing through production and distribution may minimize the negative quality characteristics associated with Pacific whiting and albacore tuna products. There are, however, several issues to consider including identifying key quality product attributes, determining handling and chilling techniques, and evaluating implementation costs. The first paper in this thesis examines how alternative handling techniques, chilling methods, and chemical and sensory qualities impact market buyers' preferences. The second paper evaluates the potential demand for improved product handling and chilling quality systems for each industry. A marketing survey, which accompanied product samples, was designed and mailed to participants from different sectors of the Pacific whiting and albacore tuna industries. Multiple linear regression and truncated tobit analysis were used to determine the response to products handled under different quality systems, and cluster analysis was used to segment the market. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was employed to examine the differences among actual product groups based on chemical tests and desirability of product characteristics. The results indicated a demand for products with improved quality characteristics for both species. The analysis identified two market segments: one group was satisfied with traditional product quality levels; the second group demonstrated higher relative demand for improved product handling and chilling methods. These differences were attributed to industry sector, species and product forms handled by the firm, respondent's experience in the seafood industry, and geographic location. This research supports the premise that value added products processed from properly handled and chilled raw material may command higher prices if targeted to specific market segments. This information is critical if industry is to develop and integrate production, quality, and marketing strategies that increase profits, reduce risk, and achieve overall firm-level and industry objectives.
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