The assessment of user acceptability in relation to crop quality traits should be a full part of breeding selection programs. Our methodology is based on a combination of sensory approaches to evaluate the sensory characteristics and user acceptability of root, tuber and banana (RTB) varieties.
The four-stepped approach links sensory characteristics to physicochemical properties and end-user acceptance. It starts with the development of key quality traits using qualitative approaches (surveys and ranking) and it applies a range of sensory tests such as Quantitative Descriptive Analysis with a trained panel, Check-All-That-apply, 9-point hedonic scale and Just-About-Right with consumers. Results obtained on the same samples from the consumer acceptance, sensory testing, and physicochemical testing are combined to explore correlations and develop acceptability thresholds.
A combined qualitative and quantitative approach involving different sensory techniques is necessary to capture sensory acceptance of products from new RTB clones. Some sensory traits can be correlated to physicochemical characteristics and could be evaluated using laboratory instruments (e.g. texture). Other traits (e.g. aroma and mealiness) are more difficult to predict, and the use of a sensory panel is still necessary. For these latter traits, more advanced physicochemical methods that could accelerate the breeding selection through high throughput phenotyping are still to be developed.