What can we learn from consumers' perception of strawberry quality?
Consumer science has undergone, over the last few decades, a considerable evolution, tracing a substantial path form an ordinary hedonic approach, to advanced methods, aimed to identify the real interest of a consumer for the product. Strawberry is generally well appreciated by consumers, possess appealing color, odor and taste, and can be supported by health-claims promoting benefits. However, a more consistent use of up-to-date methodologies may be of help in increasing strawberry attractiveness and consumption. The use of consumer tests such as CATA (check-all-that-apply) questionnaires, evidencing the relative importance of quality traits, are useful to explore which are the components leading to a satisfactory consumption and consumer loyalization. Strawberry breeding and marketing strategies may benefit from an effective involvement of target consumers in evaluating quality, declaring their perceptions, expectations and preferences. A trained panel can assess sensory profiles of cultivars, but only consumers can address quality weaknesses (e.g., fruit variability), or issues as the interest for new cultivars with reduced quality fluctuations or more resilient to environmental factors. Furthermore, instrumental and sensory approaches can examine traits correlated to liking, such as sweetness, aroma, juiciness, but we need to learn from consumers about their perception of meta-descriptors such as freshness or naturality. Rapid sensory profile techniques, statistical methods and graphic tools developed to better understand consumers' point of view, will be presented. The indications of recent tests conducted in different countries, on strawberry, will be discussed. The aim is to focus on consumer science's potential contribution to breeding decision-making, market success of new cultivars, and in general as a tool to better intercept the demands of current and potential consumers.
Predieri, S., Lippi, N. and Daniele, G.M. (2021). What can we learn from consumers' perception of strawberry quality?. Acta Hortic. 1309, 987-994
breeding, consumer science, sensory evaluation, eating quality, marketing