Plant Breeders Must Balance Needs of Both Consumers and Producers
Plant breeders have a difficult task of not only developing cultivars that appeal to consumers, but also can produce increasingly more yield per acre. Farmers, after all. get paid on volume, not typically on flavor .
Munoz… “They will tell you that they care about the fruit quality, of course, because he's important. But in reality, they get paid by pound. They don't get paid if the fruit tastes better or not.”
That was University of Florida blueberry breeder Patricio Munoz. He says customers want a blueberry that is of course tasty with a great texture. He’s able to evaluate this at the University of Florida Food Science Sensory Testing Lab.
Munoz… “Whenever we are about to release a cultivar, we are sure nowadays that we have enough consumer information. How do we do that? We work with the food science department specifically, you know, Charlie Sims. And he runs tasting panels. So then he runs several for elite selections and then through hundreds of people that actually try them. And then they give us a scores of what they think about these elite selections that we have.”
The good news though is if you’re buying local blueberries in season, you’re bound to get a terrific product. Munoz says local fruit gets consumed on average within 3-7 days vs 20-30 days for imported fruit.