Integration of Sensory Analysis into Plant Breeding
Traditionally, plant breeding goals have focused on increasing yield, product firmness, shelf life and pest tolerance, combining ambient adaptation and agronomic management, without making focus on the sensory characteristics. The addition of sensory information into plant breeding programs provides breeders with unbiased tools to measure otherwise subjective quality traits. Combining consumer preferences with descriptive information about the sensory characteristics of products can contribute to the development of consumer-driven improvements in diverse agronomical commodities. In this context, the objective of this review is to describe a series of successful experiences where sensory evaluation has contributed to breeding programs in order to develop cultivars with enhanced sensory characteristics and higher likelihood of succeeding in the marketplace. The application of analytic and hedonic tests are described and discussed. A special consideration is made into fruit and vegetables examples, with focus on strawberry and sweet potato, considering the relevance of consumer acceptance in rising consumption of these products. Rice is also showed as an example of a cereal widely consumed worldwide and where cooking methods display a special challenge in sensory evaluation.