NCSU obtains almost US $ 13 million for cranberry improvement

A team from North Carolina State University received about $ 13 million to study certain berries, which they hope to adapt to the changing needs of consumers and the industry.

North Carolina State University scientists, Massimo Iorizzo, Mary Ann Lila and Penelope Perkins-Veazie, received a four-year, $ 6.4 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture along with equivalent funds to study blueberries and cranberries .

The project, known as the Vaccinium Coordinated Agricultural Project, or VacCAP, will focus on improving the quality of berries, which are part of the Vaccinium species.According to the university, the internal wholesale value of the national Vaccinium industry exceeds $ 2 billion by year.

However, changing market preferences could spell hardship for the fruits, giving researchers impetus to begin more rigorous research.” When I joined this community in 2015, it was clear to me and many others that it was It was necessary to obtain funds to develop a coordinated, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary project that could advance genetic discoveries with a possible application in breeding programs,” Iorizzo said.

"And that would focus on traits that are critical to stakeholders, including growers, processors, and consumers."

According to the Global Blueberry Statistics Intelligence Report, the driving factor of market growth has been product availability over the past decade. However, the report notes that the quality of the fruit has increased in importance. The North Carolina State Institute of Plants for Human Health noted in a statement that “current blueberry cultivars often produce fresh market fruit with inconsistent texture and sensory profiles (eg, firmness, freshness, sweetness), which that limits growth potential in high-value fresh markets.”

Those issues are further complicated by labor costs, driven by the need for handpicking and accounting for up to 80 percent of production costs.” Funding for blueberry commodity groups such as the North Carolina Blueberry Council (NCBC) can only partly support research and breeding, while federal funding complements these investments,” said Ralph Carter, NCBC President.

“A project like this is critical to the continued growth of the cranberry industry in North Carolina and other berry-growing regions of the United States “Blueberries also have their own market issues, as there has been a shift fast in juice consumer preference for higher value products, such as sweetened dried cranberry, which requires higher quality fruit to produce.

That quality threshold, according to the Institute of Plants for Human Health of the State of North Carolina, can result in disposal rates of more than 20 percent.

“The long-term economic sustainability of blueberry industries depends on finding solutions that increase the production of fruit with improved quality attributes that meet ever-changing industry, market, and consumer preferences,” the Institute stated. NC State Plants for Human Health in a statement.

The project will be directed by Iorizzo at the Plant Institute for Human Health, which is located at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis.


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