Taste Tops Health Benefits For Blueberry Buyers

Photo courtesy of UF/IFAS
Photo courtesy of UF/IFAS

New University of Florida research shows taste trumps health benefits for blueberry buyers, sending a strong message that fruit consumers value flavor most.

About 61% of blueberry consumers buy the fruit for its flavor, while 39% do so for psychological reasons — they believe the fruit, which contains antioxidants, provides health benefits, according to two national online surveys.

UF/IFAS 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 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.

Recent surveys by online grocer FreshDirect showed only 48% of U.S. consumers bought blueberries in the past year, compared with 88% 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.”

 

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

3 comments on “Taste Tops Health Benefits For Blueberry Buyers

    1. Wild or low-bush blueberries would be the ideal type if they could be shipped fresh, were easier to harvest, were larger in size and didn’t have to be grown in an alternate-year bearing cycle. Clearly, they are not ideal from handling, management and yield standpoints. I’ve tasted may high-bush cultivars that easily rival wild blueberries for flavor and yield far better.

Berries Stories
Berries
July 2, 2017
Southern Highbush Berries Have Turned the Blueberry World Upside-Down
Berry industry revolutionized thanks to the introduction of low-chill varieties. Read More
Berries
July 1, 2017
Water is a Must for Berry Crops
As the adage goes, “ability is availability” as so it goes for water. Read More
Berries
June 27, 2017
Study Zeroes in on Sweet Spot for Florida Blueberries
Taste test proves farmers, marketers, and parents should be cognizant of kids’ consumer clout. Read More
Berries
June 20, 2017
Don’t Be Fooled By Rust in Your Brambles
Knowing whether you have orange rust disease or cane leaf rust is important for proper control methods. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 19, 2017
Bee-ware: New Resources Released for National Pollinator Week
New videos, webinars available during week-long observance. Read More
Harvest CROO Robotics mobile strawberry picking platform
Berries
June 13, 2017
Robotic Strawberry Picker Ramping up for Rollout
Florida-based agtech company officially unveils autonomous mobile platform. Read More
Berries
June 10, 2017
Orange Rust Management Tips for Brambles
Disease is on the rise this season and can affect any propagated plant material. Read More
Berries
May 30, 2017
Exploring Biodegradable Plastic Mulches in Red Raspberry
As tissue culture plugs increase in popularity, growers are seeking ways to get these planting off to a good start. Read More
Berries
May 26, 2017
Jury Sides with University in Strawberry Breeding Lawsuit
Decision says former breeders infringed on UC patents to develop material for corporate breeding firm. Read More
Berries
May 23, 2017
Researchers Examining Potential for Longer Berry Season in Northeast
Team at Penn State University using low and high tunnels and plastic coverings to extend raspberry and strawberry seasons. Read More
Berries
May 15, 2017
Grower Comments on Pyrethroids Being Sought by EPA
Comment period on popular class of insecticides opens today. Read More
Alto Straughn receives distinguished alumnus award from UF President Kent Fuchs
Berries
May 4, 2017
Florida Farming Pioneer Still Making the Honor Roll
Alto Straughn presented with University of Florida’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. Read More
Berries
May 2, 2017
Southeastern Strawberry Growers Advised to Prepare for Disease Pressure
Recent rain is conducive to the main strawberry fruit rot diseases, according to the chief of the Southern Region IPM Center. Read More
Berries
April 26, 2017
Tips To Manage Winter-Damaged Blueberries
While low-chill varieties in Southern states may have experienced freeze damage for the second year in a row, giving those plants extra care will help ensure a good start to the 2018 growing season. Read More
The Hill family of Southern Hill Farms in Florida
Berries
April 13, 2017
Florida Farming Family Staying on Top of the Blueberry Game
The Hill family of Southern Hill Farms continues to up their efforts to diversify business and stay out ahead of a competitive market. Read More
The Latest
Berries
August 22, 2017
Columnist Wins Prestigious Plant Breeder…
John Clark, who writes a column for American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® magazines, is honored with National Plant Breeders Association Impact Award. Read More
Berries
August 3, 2017
Tips to Control Rodents in Drip-Irrigate…
Rodents are a major concern for all strawberry growers, including those with drip irrigation systems. Pests like pocket gophers, moles, Read More
Berries
August 1, 2017
New York Berry Crops Field Day Slated
Cornell University and a Rensselaer County farm partner to host a free workshop for commercial berry growers. Read More
Berries
July 2, 2017
Southern Highbush Berries Have Turned th…
Berry industry revolutionized thanks to the introduction of low-chill varieties. Read More
Berries
July 1, 2017
Water is a Must for Berry Crops
As the adage goes, “ability is availability” as so it goes for water. Read More
Berries
June 27, 2017
Study Zeroes in on Sweet Spot for Florid…
Taste test proves farmers, marketers, and parents should be cognizant of kids’ consumer clout. Read More
Berries
June 20, 2017
Don’t Be Fooled By Rust in Your Brambles
Knowing whether you have orange rust disease or cane leaf rust is important for proper control methods. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 19, 2017
Bee-ware: New Resources Released for Nat…
New videos, webinars available during week-long observance. Read More
Berries
June 13, 2017
Robotic Strawberry Picker Ramping up for…
Florida-based agtech company officially unveils autonomous mobile platform. Read More
Berries
June 10, 2017
Orange Rust Management Tips for Brambles
Disease is on the rise this season and can affect any propagated plant material. Read More
Berries
May 30, 2017
Exploring Biodegradable Plastic Mulches …
As tissue culture plugs increase in popularity, growers are seeking ways to get these planting off to a good start. Read More
Berries
May 26, 2017
Jury Sides with University in Strawberry…
Decision says former breeders infringed on UC patents to develop material for corporate breeding firm. Read More
Berries
May 23, 2017
Researchers Examining Potential for Long…
Team at Penn State University using low and high tunnels and plastic coverings to extend raspberry and strawberry seasons. Read More
Berries
May 15, 2017
Grower Comments on Pyrethroids Being Sou…
Comment period on popular class of insecticides opens today. Read More
Berries
May 4, 2017
Florida Farming Pioneer Still Making the…
Alto Straughn presented with University of Florida’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. Read More
Berries
May 2, 2017
Southeastern Strawberry Growers Advised …
Recent rain is conducive to the main strawberry fruit rot diseases, according to the chief of the Southern Region IPM Center. Read More
Berries
April 26, 2017
Tips To Manage Winter-Damaged Blueberrie…
While low-chill varieties in Southern states may have experienced freeze damage for the second year in a row, giving those plants extra care will help ensure a good start to the 2018 growing season. Read More
Berries
April 13, 2017
Florida Farming Family Staying on Top of…
The Hill family of Southern Hill Farms continues to up their efforts to diversify business and stay out ahead of a competitive market. Read More