The consumer of blueberry and their preferences were the focus of a full day of consumer testing conducted by CNR-IBE during the final day of International Blueberry Days at Macfrut 2023.
Participants at the Rimini fair participated in large numbers in the evaluation, which was conducted in two stages: initially they were asked to rate the ideal intrinsic characteristics of blueberries, and then moved on to express preferences for their preferred outward appearance.
THE BREEDING VALUE PROGRAM
The consumer test was held within the Breeding Value program, coordinated by Prof. Bruno Mezzetti of the Marche Polytechnic University. It aims to develop methods of assessing consumer perception of the quality of blueberry , in particular to also train people who are able to assist genetic improvement operators in order to know how to identify and develop commercially the varieties that best meet consumer needs."
According to Mezzetti, "this method serves precisely to define the traits that can characterize a premium product, i.e., for which the consumer expresses a preferential evaluation and which then also be developed with commercial strategies aimed at making the characteristics of the fruits known."
Italian Berry exclusively interviewed Stefano Predieri, senior researcher at CNR, head of the Bologna branch of the Institute of Bioeconomics, and an expert in product quality, sensory analysis and consumer science.
"The methodology used makes it possible to engage the consumer by encouraging his or her expression of overall liking for the product, but also to express which attributes he or she feels most characterize blueberry and are decisive in the choice. The test used is called CATA(check all that apply) and allows very clear, direct responses from the consumer so as to help create the sensory profile of the blueberry they are tasting. Based on this, the golden formula for defining the ideal blueberry is also created."
The test was administered according to a methodology validated according to international standardsin terms of both software tools and protocols applied and statistical processing. The personnel who conducted the test are qualified as "sensory project managers" under Law 4/2016.
"With regard to taste aspects, it turned out that consumer expectations are to have a product with an intense and clearly recognizable aroma of blueberry , supported by a sweet taste, with a juicy and consistent but above all crunchy fruit."
"Regarding visual aspects, the idealblueberry should be homogeneous in shape, with bloom and dark in color. More than the absolute size, therefore, the homogeneity of both size and shape matters."
Thus, bloom, which is an indicator of freshness, is confirmed to be an aspect that consumers also value positively.
Tests such as those conducted today at Macfrut are relevant indications for the entire supply chain to work together to maximize consumer satisfaction. Indeed, the consumer can be a valuable ally in the search for products that meet his or her expectations: in the consumer-driven breeding process, the consumer is actively involved in defining varietal selection guidelines.
The indications coming out of the CNR-IBE test at International Blueberry Days draw a consumer who is clear about what the ideal blueberry looks like: now it is up to operators to find ways to meet and exceed his expectations.