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- Author or Editor: Jessica L. Gilbert x
Previously, when selecting for flavor in the University of Florida southern highbush blueberry (SHB, Vaccinium corymbosum L. hybrids) breeding program, sugar/acid ratios and breeder preference were the only factors considered. A more precise method of evaluating flavor would include volatile compounds that may also contribute to the flavor experience. Therefore, volatile profiles of five SHB cultivars (Farthing, FL01-173, Scintilla, Star, and Sweetcrisp) were compared using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. All cultivars were harvested on four separate dates within the harvest season, and fruit from each cultivar were also harvested at four developmental stages on the first harvest date. Among the cultivars, soluble solids content and volatile production tended to increase with fruit maturity, whereas titratable acidity decreased. All volatile components were more variable than measures of sugars and acids during the harvest season. Many of the volatiles present varied significantly between harvest dates, resulting in significant genotype × environment interactions during the harvest season. A closer examination of linalool, trans-2-hexenol, trans-2-hexenal, hexanal, and 1-penten-3-ol, five volatile compounds commonly associated with blueberry flavor, showed cultivar, developmental stage, and harvest date differences for each volatile. ‘Star’ experienced the least variation through the harvest period.
Blueberries are a high-value fruit that has experienced extraordinary growth in consumption in the past decade. Maintaining this growing market requires an understanding of the current market and its potential for expansion. To assay the impact of 36 specific blueberry sensory and psychological traits on consumer interest, a blueberry fruit quality study was constructed using techniques that allow many features to be tested in an analysis by combining specifics from different categories that describe a product. Individual traits that most impact the likelihood of fruit purchase were identified. Sweet and intense blueberry flavor yielded the most positive purchase interest, whereas bad texture attributes such as seediness were the most detrimental to interest. It was also possible to define two interest segments within the survey population that shared similar responses to particular experimentally assayed traits. The larger segment of the sample population (61%) was most interested in the aspects of blueberry flavor, whereas the second segment of respondents (39%) was most influenced by health aspects commonly associated with blueberry fruit consumption. Both segments responded negatively to bad texture. This study suggests that breeders and producers should exploit genetic and environmental variables that contribute to improved blueberry flavor and that marketing strategies to sell blueberry cultivars of superior flavor may be appropriate.
Despite production of the first domestically produced peach of the calendar year in the United States, the subtropical peach industry faces marketing challenges, particularly with small fruit size. Although important, size is only one aspect of fruit quality, and not inclusive of all possible fruit quality attributes. Thus, this research asked consumers to identify an “ideal” peach given a combination of possible peach fruit quality attributes to help determine their influence on consumer purchase. These attributes were verified with farmers’ market intercept studies. The top attributes that fostered purchase likelihood included flavor, texture, size, and firmness. Psychophysics studies showed that consumers preferred peaches that were sweet, juicy, round, with freestone or semifreestone characteristics, whereas consumers were less likely to purchase peaches with mealy, dry, or meaty textures. Young consumers (ages 18–24) preferred crisp, firm peaches with good flavor, whereas older consumers (ages 51–65) preferred sweet, melting-texture peaches. Farmers’ market intercept studies found consumers (ages 45–65) preferred melting-texture peaches with good flavor that led to increased overall liking. In addition, in the farmers’ market studies, aroma and flavor were important attributes and were highly correlated with overall liking. Objective measurements of total soluble solids (TSS) were not correlated with overall liking, indicating that although the nationwide experiment found consumers desired sweet peaches, other attributes may contribute more favorably to overall liking.