With financing from the Innovation Fund for Competitiveness (FIC), Chile's Universidad de Concepción will work to shed light on the value of this product for national producers, exporters and consumers. Project director, Dr. María Dolores López, explained that the study will focus on the main varieties that are produced and processed in Chile.
"This study arose from the need expressed by some blueberry producers to better understand their products and the nutritional benefits of fresh, as well as processed blueberries, like juice and jams, in order to possibly label them in the future," López told www.freshfruitportal.com.
Since blueberries are often processed before consumption in Chile, López explained the importance of understanding the nutritional value of the fruit in its many forms.
"Blueberries are an especially healthy fruit with an immense number of antioxidant properties. Chile is one of the main producers of the fruit. Unfortunately, a great part of production goes abroad, so Chileans aren't not major consumers of the fresh fruit," she said.
"The Chilean population, however, prefers to consumer blueberry juices and jams. So we saw the need to do an in-depth study on fresh blueberries, juices and jams to determine if the Chilean population eats healthily, including all of the compounds from fresh fruit or if, on the contrary, these processed products have lost their antioxidant properties."
The study will evaluate the antioxidant concentrations of several different blueberry varieties, such as Brigitta, Duke and Legacy, and the changes they undergo during processing.
"By collecting this information, we seek to put in place a service for farmers that want to analyze the physicochemical properties of their crops and, additionally, raise awareness among the population on how healthy blueberry consumption is," she said.
"We hope the industry will find it beneficial, since we will promote blueberries by showing information on their nutritional benefits."
López said the preliminary results will be ready at the end of 2014. Full results will require an additional year.