Nutritional composition changes in bell pepper as affected by the ripening stage of fruits at harvest or postharvest storage and assessed non-destructively

J Sci Food Agric. 2021 Jun 18. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.11375. Online ahead of print.


Background: Nutritional quality in bell pepper is related to the ripening stage of the fruit at harvest and postharvest storage. Its determination requires time-consuming, tissue-destructive, analytical laboratory techniques. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of ripening stage and of postharvest storage period on fruit nutritional quality, and whether it is feasible to develop reliable models for assessing the nutritional components in peppers using non-destructive methods. The dry matter, soluble solids, ascorbic acid, phenolics, chlorophylls, carotenoids and the total antioxidant capacity were determined in bell pepper fruits at six ripening stages, from green to full red, during storage at 10 °C for 8 days. Color, chlorophyll fluorescence, visible/near infrared (Vis/NIR) spectroscopy, red-green-blue (R-G-B) and red-green-near infrared (R-G-NIR) digital imaging were tested for assessing the nutritional quality of peppers.

Results: The nutritional composition was mainly affected by the ripening stage of bell pepper fruits at harvest and only to a small degree by the storage period. Indeed, the more advanced ripening stage of fruit at harvest resulted in superior nutritional quality. Most of the non-destructive techniques reliably predicted the internal quality of the fruit. The genetic algorithm (GA), the variable importance in projection (VIP) scores, and the variable inflation factor (VIF) tests identified nine distinct regions and four specific wavelengths on the whole visible/NIR electromagnetic spectrum that exhibited the most significant effect in the assessment of the nutritional components.

Conclusion: It is possible to predict individual nutritional components in bell pepper fruit reliably and non-destructively, and irrespective of the ripening stage of fruits at harvest. © 2021 Society of Chemical Industry.

Keywords: PLS; chemometrics; multivariate regression; non-destructive; postharvest storage life; spectroscopy.