The purpose of this project was to examine supply chain factors that could affect broccoli quality, evaluate retail display conditions and determine whether consumer expectations of broccoli are likely to be met.

Although temperature management in broccoli supply chains generally appeared to be good—at least until delivery to distribution centres—quality at retail was extremely variable. While many retail displays were not refrigerated, neither cooling, display method or price were any guarantee of quality and shelf life. The results suggest that consumers will be disappointed with the quality of broccoli offered at retail on at least one in five occasions.

Broccoli freshness at retail is highly variable. Quality does not correlate to display method or price, and storage life cannot be easily predicted from quality at purchase. It is entirely possible that consumers do indeed purchase broccoli less often because of quality issues. While the source of variability was not clear in this study, it appears unlikely to be due to poor temperature management by growers and packers.