Background: Instrumental analyses have shown that non-vented bio-based containers made from poly(lactic acid) (PLA) have the capability to enhance blueberry shelf life as compared with commercial vented petroleum-based clamshell containers. However, consumer preference has not been explored so far. In this study, two sensory evaluations, triangle and paired preference tests, were performed after storing fruit in both containers at 3 and 10 degrees C for 7 and 14 days. In addition, physicochemical analyses were performed after each tasting in order to correlate instrumental findings with consumer preference.
Results: The results of the triangle test showed the capability of the consumer to differentiate (P < or = 0.001) between blueberries from different packages at both storage temperatures. A consumer preference for flavour, texture, external appearance and overall quality (P < or = 0.001) of blueberries packaged in PLA containers was observed in the paired comparison test. The instrumental analyses showed that blueberries in the PLA packages exhibited a weight loss below the limit for marketable life, a stable soluble solid content and titratable acidity and no fungal growth during storage.
Conclusion: Consumers distinguished between blueberries from different packages and preferred those packaged in the PLA containers. The instrumental analyses showed that the usable life of the berries was extended in the PLA containers. A correlation between consumer preference and instrumental evaluations was found.