While most people are aware of the health benefits found in blueberries, it is the taste that keeps them coming back for more. And now a new study conducted by University of Florida researchers - backs up the message that fruit consumers value flavor the most.
In two recent national online surveys, 61 percent of blueberry consumers claimed they buy the fruit for its flavor while 39 percent said they did so for psychological reasons because they believe the antioxidant-containing fruit provides health benefits.
The highest praises found on the consumers lists were phrases such as so sweetno sugar added and bold and intense blueberry flavor. Also high on the list were descriptions such as full of juice and antioxidants. Texture was not rated very high on the list of preferred traits.
The data will also be used to breed new types of blueberries using traditional breeding methods to create blueberry cultivars that have traits consumers want. What were trying to determine is: What is the consumers perception of the ideal blueberry and what should it look, taste and feel like? said Jim Olmstead, UF horticultural sciences assistant professor and study co-author of the paper, which appeared in the July edition of the journal HortScience.
Scientists and growers claim that developing a new blueberry variety can take more than 10 years so before investing that time they need to know what consumers want. There's not one type of consumer, added study co-author Thomas Colquhoun, an environmental horticulture assistant professor. You have purchasers that work with the sensory side of the brain, and then you have purchasers that work with the psychological side. Historically, many blueberry traits have been selected with producers in mind, including climate adaptation, yield harvest potential and disease resistance.
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