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ARS Home » Plains Area » College Station, Texas » Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center » Crop Germplasm Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #392646

Research Project: Pecan Breeding, Genomics, and Genetic Resource Management

Location: Crop Germplasm Research

Title: Consumer hedonic ratings and associated sensory characteristics and emotional responses to fourteen pecan varieties grown in Texas

item XIAOFEN, DU - Texas Woman'S University
item Wang, Xinwang
item MUNIZ, ADRIAN - Texas Woman'S University
item Kubenka, Keith

Submitted to: Plants
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/6/2022
Publication Date: 7/9/2022
Citation: Xiaofen, D., Wang, X., Muniz, A., Kubenka, K.A. 2022. Consumer hedonic ratings and associated sensory characteristics and emotional responses to fourteen pecan varieties grown in Texas. Horticulturae. Article: e11141814.

Interpretive Summary: Pecan nut quality is a major factor for consideration in breeding better pecan cultivars for use by producers. Historically, the USDA-ARS Pecan Breeding Program has focused on traits including nut kernel percentage, nut color, and taste. However, the breeding program has not had a formal benchmark for nut quality for cultivars, breeding lines, and natives/seedlings. The work reported on here is the first to use consumer input to assess nut quality and consumption preference. This study evaluated 14 pecan types including cultivars, breeding lines, and natives/seedlings for their consumer ratings focused on overall perceptions of taste, sight, smell, texture, etc. The study collected impressions/feedback from 198 different adult consumers. The data obtained will be foundational to ongoing work to develop new pecan types that will best meet consumer preferences and expectations and that therefore will be accepted by producers for incorporation into their commerical orchards.

Technical Abstract: There is limited evaluation of consumer preferences of pecan varieties. This study aimed to investigate consumer (n=198) hedonic rating, diagnostic sensory attribute intensity, and emotional response for 14 pecan samples consisting of native and improved varieties. The results indicated that all kernels received positive hedonic scores (>5 on a 9-point hedonic scale)for overall acceptance and the acceptability of size, interior color, typical-pecan flavor, and raw-nut flavor. The primary sensory attributes (intensities >5.0 on a 0-10 scale) were typical-pecan and raw-nut flavors, followed by buttery flavor, sweetness, and astringency. Kernel off-flavors were not perceived in general. For 20 emotion-associated terms, the intensity (0-10 scale) for satiating effect was medium, while energizing effect was lower. The major emotional responses (CATA question) were healthy, satisfied, and comfort, followed by calm, interested, premium, and relaxed. Variety difference was significant (p=0.05) for all these measured variables, and the six most preferred varieties were 86TX2-1.5, 'Pawnee', 'Barton', 1997-09-0012, 1991-01-0026, and 'Harris Super'. Consumer overall acceptance toward pecan kernels was driven by the acceptability of flavor and interior color, flavor intensities, no off-flavors, and positive emotional responses; kernel size was not an impactful factor. This study provides essential knowledge for pecan breeders to select nut quality in the breeding program and a potential industrial development strategy for the pecan processing industry and growers.