The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) will lead a five-year research project aimed at breeding elite strawberry lines for premium markets. It will be done in conjunction with the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) and Griffith University. Funded by Hort Innovation, the goal is to build an advanced knowledge base of the genetics behind the strawberry flavor and qualities consumers prefer.
Sensory science and flavor chemist from QAAFI's Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences, associate professor Heather Smyth, said the aim was to create diversity for strawberries, similar to apples: "There are many different apple varieties which offer subtly different tastes, textures, and end-uses - Granny Smith, Red Delicious for example."
There is a potential to have different varieties with different sensory properties and, therefore, different applications and markets. "For example, home consumers might prefer small, sweet strawberries, while chefs might prefer the visual appeal of larger fruit for particular culinary uses and may not be too concerned about sweetness because they can add it themselves," associate professor Smyth said.
Australia produces more than 82,000 tons of strawberries a year, with a value of $435 million. More than 42 percent of production is in southern Queensland.