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Review Article|13 Jul 2016|OPEN
Sensory sacrifices when we mass-produce mass produce
Kevin M Folta1 , and Harry J Klee,1
1Horticultural Sciences Department, Plant Innovation Center and The Graduate Program for Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32606, USA
*Corresponding author. E-mail: kfolta@ufl.edu

Horticulture Research 3,
Article number: 32 (2016)
doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/hortres.2016.32
Views: 723

Received: 05 Jun 2016
Accepted: 14 Jun 2016
Published online: 13 Jul 2016

Abstract

Plant breeders have been extremely successful at driving genetic improvements in crops. However, ‘improvements’ are truly a question of perspective. Over the last one-hundred years most plant genetic innovations have been driven by industry demand. Larger fruits, heavier yields, uniformity, increased resistance to disease and better shipping quality are just a few of the traits that have ensured profits on the farm and affordable food for consumers. However, these milestones have come at the expense of sensory qualities, which have been sacrificed in exchange for practical production objectives. With a base of industry-sufficient genetics, today’s breeders can now turn to the consumer for guidance in defining critical desires. New approaches to plant breeding start with the analysis of consumer preferences, and then merge them with modern genomics and analytical chemistry tools. The result is the next generation of crops that meet supply chain demands while presenting improvements in flavor, nutrition, color, aroma and texture. This review analyzes the approach of consumer-assisted selection as it has been applied to tomato and strawberry, two complementary annual crops that have been intensively bred to meet industry expectations. Current breeding efforts start with the consumer, with the objective of reclaiming lost sensory qualities.