Taste trumps health benefits for blueberry buyers, sending a strong message that fruit consumers value flavor most, new University of Florida research shows.
About 61 percent of blueberry consumers buy the fruit for its flavor, while 39 percent do so for psychological reasons, according to two national online surveys. By “psychological,” researchers mean those consumers may buy blueberries because they believe the fruit, which contains antioxidants, provides health benefits.
UF horticultural sciences assistant professor Jim Olmstead will use the data as he breeds new types of blueberries. Olmstead uses traditional breeding methods to create blueberry cultivars that have traits consumers want.
“What we’re trying to determine is: What is the consumer’s perception of the ideal blueberry? What should it look, taste and feel like?” said Olmstead, a faculty member with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
A company called Panel Direct Online recruited survey takers, using an online questionnaire to ensure participants bought blueberries in the 12 months before the survey and that they were evenly split between men and women.
Three hundred and six people answered the first survey, conducted in 2011. In 2013, the researchers surveyed another 300 blueberry buyers. Respondents in both surveys answered the same questions about six blueberry traits: firmness, texture, size, color, flavor and human nutrition. Researchers then divided traits into six more categories, so respondents revealed their preferences about 36 different blueberry traits.
Consumers valued such factors as “so sweet…no sugar added” and “bold and intense blueberry flavor” the highest. Also high on their list were “full of juice” and “full of antioxidants.”
Olmstead said his ongoing research includes improving blueberry texture, but survey respondents did not rate texture high on their list of preferred traits.
Using a nine-point scale, respondents were asked to rate their blueberry experiences, both good and bad. Respondents were tested on what scientists call psychophysics, or how your brain reacts to stimuli such as taste, smell and texture.
The survey used metrics designed by Howard Moskowitz, a psychophysicist who has helped companies, including Ragu, enhance flavors to meet consumer demand.
Florida blueberries generate $66 million annually, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Native to North America, blueberries are now grown in South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Recent surveys by online grocer FreshDirect showed only 48 percent of U.S. consumers bought blueberries in the past year, compared with 88 percent who bought the top-selling fruit, bananas.
Historically, many blueberry traits have been selected with producers in mind, including climate adaptation, yield, harvest potential and disease resistance, said Thomas Colquhoun, an environmental horticulture assistant professor and study co-author.
Developing a new blueberry variety can take more than 10 years, so before investing that time, scientists and growers need to know what consumers want, he said.
“There’s not just one type of customer,” Colquhoun said. “You have purchasers that work with the sensory side of the brain, and then you have purchasers that work with the psychological side.”
Olmstead co-wrote the paper with Colquhoun, doctoral student Jessica Gilbert, former undergraduate student Laura Levin and professor David Clark, all in the Plant Innovation Program at UF/IFAS, and Moskowitz, a consultant in White Plains, N.Y. The paper appeared online in the July edition of the journal HortScience.
Downloadable broadcast video here: http://goo.gl/sdHDRH
Brad Buck | newswise
Recycled Water, Salt-Tolerant Grass a Water-Saving Pair
29.06.2015 | American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)
Selective breeding and immunization improve fish farm yields
29.06.2015 | Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)
Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and a half billion years ago.
Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and...
A team of scientists including PhD student Friedrich Schuler from the Laboratory of MEMS Applications at the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) of...
The three-year clinical trial results of the retinal implant popularly known as the "bionic eye," have proven the long-term efficacy, safety and reliability of...
On June 23, the second Sentinel mission was launched from the space mission launch center in Kourou. A critical component of Aachen is on board. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT and Tesat-Spacecom have jointly developed the know-how for space-qualified laser components. For the Sentinel mission the diode laser pump module of the Laser Communication Terminal LCT was planned and constructed in Aachen in cooperation with the manufacturer of the LCT, Tesat-Spacecom, and the Ferdinand Braun Institute.
After eight years of preparation, in the early morning of June 23 the time had come: in Kourou in French Guiana, the European Space Agency launched the...
(Nano)islands that slide freely on a sea of copper, but when they become too large (and too dense) they end up getting stuck: that nicely sums up the system...
25.06.2015 | Event News
16.06.2015 | Event News
11.06.2015 | Event News
30.06.2015 | Earth Sciences
30.06.2015 | Earth Sciences
30.06.2015 | Health and Medicine