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Aim of study: This study focuses on the preference for and consumption habits of blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) in an emerging market. The objective is to analyze the determinants of blueberry consumption in Chile and evaluate to what extent traditional factors, such as income and price, are more determinant than other attitudinal factors and lifestyles. Area of study: The Biobío Region (Chillán City), the second most important region in Chile. Material and methods: A face-to-face survey is applied to a random stratified sample. The survey collected information on adoption of healthy lifestyles, knowledge of blueberries as a natural functional food, some sociodemographic characteristics, and traditional economic factors. A Heckman model is estimated by the Maximum Likelihood. Main results: Results suggest that higher blueberry consumption is positively associated with the adoption of healthy lifestyles, a higher self-perception of healthy habits, and the recognition of blueberries as a natural functional food. The nutritional status reflected that people with a lower body mass index consume fewer blueberries. Finally, traditional factors, such as income and price, are showed to be more influential on blueberry consumption than attitudinal and lifestyle factors. Research highlights: Chilean consumers perceive blueberries as a healthy product, which can contribute to adopt healthier lifestyles. Domestic markets should be supplied with higher quality product taking into account that the demand is price inelastic. Branding and packaging with functional claims could be an efficient strategy to increase domestic consumption.
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RESEARCH ARTICLE OPEN ACCESS
Blueberry consumption and healthy lifestyles in an emerging market
Rodrigo Romo-Muñoz (Romo-Muñoz, R)1, Jairo Dote-Pardo (Dote-Pardo, J)1, Héctor Garrido-Henríquez (Garrido-Henríquez, H)1,
Jacqueline Araneda-Flores (Araneda-Flores, J)2 and Jose M. Gil (Gil, JM)3
1Universidad del Bío-Bío, Dept. Business Management, Avda. Andrés Bello 720, Chillán, Chile. 2Universidad del Bío-Bío, Dept. Nutrition and Public
Health, Avda. Andrés Bello 720, Chillán, Chile. 3Center for Agro-food Economy and Development (CREDA-UPC-IRTA), Castelldefels, Barcelona,
Spain.
Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research
17 (4), e0111, 11 pages (2019)
eISSN: 2171-9292
https://doi.org/10.5424/sjar/2019174-14195
Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA)
Abstract
Aim of study: This study focuses on the preference for and consumption habits of blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) in an
emerging market. The objective is to analyze the determinants of blueberry consumption in Chile and evaluate to what extent traditional
factors, such as income and price, are more determinant than other attitudinal factors and lifestyles.
Area of study: The Biobío Region (Chillán City), the second most important region in Chile.
Material and methods: A face-to-face survey is applied to a random stratied sample. The survey collected information on adoption
of healthy lifestyles, knowledge of blueberries as a natural functional food, some sociodemographic characteristics, and traditional
economic factors. A Heckman model is estimated by the Maximum Likelihood.
Main results: Results suggest that higher blueberry consumption is positively associated with the adoption of healthy lifestyles, a
higher self-perception of healthy habits, and the recognition of blueberries as a natural functional food. The nutritional status reected
that people with a lower body mass index consume fewer blueberries. Finally, traditional factors, such as income and price, are showed
to be more inuential on blueberry consumption than attitudinal and lifestyle factors.
Research highlights: Chilean consumers perceive blueberries as a healthy product, which can contribute to adopt healthier lifestyles.
Domestic markets should be supplied with higher quality product taking into account that the demand is price inelastic. Branding and
packaging with functional claims could be an ecient strategy to increase domestic consumption.
Additional keywords: Chile; Heckman model; healthy lifestyles; natural functional food.
Abbreviations used: BMI (Body Mass Index); CNCDs (Chronic Noncommunicable Diseases); HLS (Healthy Lifestyles); OLS
(Ordinary Least Squares); WHO (World Health Organization).
Authors’ contributions: Conceived the research and designed the survey; collected and codied the data: RRM. Analyzed the data
and drafted the manuscript: RRM, JDP, HGH, JA and JMG. Critically revised the manuscript: JMG. Coordinated and directed research:
RR and JMG.
Citation: Romo-Muñoz, R; Dote-Pardo, J; Garrido-Henríquez, H; Araneda-Flores, J; Gil, JM (2019). Blueberry consumption and
healthy lifestyles in an emerging market. Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research, Volume 17, Issue 4, e0111. https://doi.org/10.5424/
sjar/2019174-14195
Received: 01 Nov 2018. Accepted: 14 Nov 2019.
Copyright © 2019 INIA. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
International (CC-by 4.0) License.
Funding: The authors received no specic funding for this work.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Correspondence should be addressed to José María Gil: chema.gil@upc.edu
Introduction
Increasing demand and consumption of healthy and
functional foods is one of the most signicant current
world trends. The world market for functional foods
is growing annually at 10% and estimated in US$ 150
billion yearly (Granato et al., 2010).
The concept of functional food originated in Japan
in the 80s, and its meaning has varied throughout the
world (Lau et al., 2013) because no clear international
regulation exists as to its denition or classication
(Brown & Chan, 2010). According to Pravst (2012),
there is a certain consensus for dening functional food
as: i) an unmodied natural food, ii) food in which a
component has been improved through cultivation
or biotechnology, iii) food to which a component has
been added to provide benets, iv) food in which a
component has been eliminated through technology,
v) food in which a component has been replaced by
another benecial component, vi) food in which a
component has been modied, vii) food in which the
bioavailability of a component has been modied,
and viii) a combination of any of the abovementioned
denitions.
Increasing demand for functional foods is due to the
growing interest of the population to acquire products
Rodrigo Romo-Muñoz, Jairo Dote-Pardo, Héctor Garrido-Henríquez, et al.
Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research December 2019 • Volume 17 • Issue 4 • e0111
2
in the market that contribute to health and wellbeing,
and thus reduce the risk of chronic noncommuni-
cable diseases (CNCDs) such as overweight, obesi ty,
cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes (Bar-
reiro-Hulé, 2007; Kearney, 2010). The CNCDs are
currently identied as a very important public health
problem worldwide (Beaglehole et al., 2011; Singhal,
2016) because they occur cross-sectionally in both
low- and middle-income countries as well as in the
most important world eco-nomies, such as the USA
and China, and cause 63% of total annual deaths
(Ezzati & Riboli, 2013; Hunter & Reddy, 2013; Xu et
al., 2013; WHO, 2017).
This public health problem, as well as its con-
sequences, could be partially prevented by adopting
healthy lifestyles (HLS), which are behavior patterns
benecial for human health (Alwan, 2011). Na tu-
ral functional foods appear in this context; they are
characterized as having properties that go beyond
nutrition and hunger satisfaction and contribute to
people’s physical and mental wellbeing (Olagnero
et al., 2007; Granato et al., 2010; Bigliardi & Galati,
2013; Goetzke & Spiller, 2014).
The blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) is
considered as a very relevant natural functional
food that has been widely studied by the scientic
community with respect to its phenolic composition
(Norberto et al., 2013). Dierent properties have been
highlighted such as antioxidant, anti-inammatory,
neuroprotective action, and activity against cancer,
contributing to people’s health as well as properties
preventing diseases such as atherosclerosis, neurode-
generative disorders, and diabetes (Routray & Orsat,
2011).
Despite the recognized importance of blueberries
for people’s health, there is a gap in the literature
referring to research from a consumer perspective to
incorporate this fruit in the regular diet. In Chile, a
study conducted in adolescents residing in the Biobío
Region showed that 3 out of every 10 adolescents
consume blueberries; however, its consumption was
not reported as being within the 10 most consumed
fruits at a national level (Araneda et al., 2015).
Notwithstanding the abovementioned, the man
y
pro-perties of this fruit have impacted world pro-
duction, which has signicantly increased in re cent
times by approximately 120%, going from appro-
ximately 300,000 tons in 2008 to 657,000 tons in
2017 (USHBC, 2018). The main producing regions
are North America (58%), followed by South America
(26%) and Europe (10%) (González, 2013). Currently,
90% of global blueberry production is concentrated
in 10 countries led by the USA with 257,000 tons in
2016. As for exports, these are concentrated in only
ve countries: Chile, the USA, Canada, Argentina,
and Spain, which account for 90% of world exports.
Chile has positioned itself in recent years as a
relevant world player for both blueberry production
and export. Chile ranks second in the world with 20%
of the production, which has increased by 1,107%
between 2004 and 2016 (Brazelton & Young, 2017).
It is also the leading exporter with 110,351 tons in
2017, an increase of 1,092% between 2004 and 2017.
Eighty-three percent of exports are destined to North
America (66%), Europe (22%), and Asia-Pacic (12%)
(Chilean Blueberry Committee [CBC], 2017a). The
Biobío Region (second most important region in Chile
in terms of economics and population), accounts for
almost 30% of the total cultivated area in the country,
and 91% of local blueberry production is exported
(CBC, 2017b).
The USA is the most important consumer with
358,270 tons per year (Ocina de Estudios y Políticas
Agrarias [ODEPA], 2013; USHBC, 2016; Brazelton
& Young, 2017). Consumption in Chile has grown at
increasing rates and part of the production is destined
for the domestic market, from 1,200 tons in 2004
to 33,918 tons in 2016, and apparent consumption
increased by 2,727% in the same period (CBC, 2017c).
This could be partly explained by the population’s
growing interest in consuming healthy food that is
recognized for its multiple health benets (Hu et al.,
2011).
A dynamic world market contrasts with the scar-
city of research studies focused on analyzing the
variables that inuence the purchase and consumption
of blueberries worldwide. Most of the few existing
articles in the literature were developed in the USA
and Canada. Available studies can be classied in three
groups: i) studies focused on analyzing the determinants
of fresh blueberry purchase and consumption (Gilbert
et al., 2014; Girgenti et al., 2016), ii) those focused
on developing the industry of blueberry and processed
blueberry-based products (Carew et al., 2005; Hu
et al., 2009; 2010; 2011), and iii) research studying
market trends and consumer perception of blueberry-
based functional beverages (Corbo et al., 2014; Kim
& Kwak, 2015). With the exception of Schnettler et al.
(2011), studies have yet to be conducted in emerging
markets, such as the Chilean market, which are relevant
for blueberry production, export, and consumption.
The present study aims to contribute knowledge about
the determinants of blueberry consumption. Therefore,
the objective of the present study was to analyze the
determinants of blueberry consumption in Chile and
evaluate to what extent traditional economic factors,
such as income and price, are more determinant than
other more attitudinal and lifestyle factors.
Blueberry consumption and healthy lifestyles in an emerging market
Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research December 2019 • Volume 17 • Issue 4 • e0111
3
et al., 2006; WHO, 2015a) that incorporates fruit,
vegetables, sh, and legumes. Research studies report
that physical activity is necessary when HLS are
adopted as it contributes to decreasing the probability
of developing CNCDs (WHO, 2010; Sallis et al., 2012;
Dart et al., 2016). The literature indicates that smoking
is not part of HLS; it is considered as a risk factor for
CNCDs and one of the main causes of death worldwide
(Glantz & Gonzalez, 2012; WHO, 2015b). Excessive
alcohol consumption generates harmful eects on
people’s health (Parry et al., 2011; WHO, 2014),
with the exception of red wine, because its moderate
consumption helps reduce the probability of suering
cardiovascular disease (Hansel et al., 2010; Ronksley
et al., 2011). Therefore, both smoking and excessive
alcohol consumption are considered as risk factors for
CNCDs and mortality.
In this study, participants were asked for the dimen-
sions that make up HLS. Questions related to diet
were categorized in four items of foods recognized
as being healthy, such as fruit, vegetables, dairy and
meat, and sh and seafood; one item related to fast
food consumption was also included, which consisted
of foods high in salt content, saturated fats, and added
sugars, such as hot-dogs, hamburgers, and French fries.
Table 2 illustrates the HLS factors and their respective
categories and signicance. The HLS scale ranges
between 0 and 8 points where 0 is the lowest score (null
adoption) and 8 is the maximum score (high adoption).
Some variables suggested in the literature have also
been used to measure health and HLS determinants.
The rst variable is nutritional status calculated as the
individual’s BMI and classied as normal (BMI bet-
ween 18.5 and 24.9), overweight (BMI between 25.0
and 25.9), and obesity (BMI greater than 30.0). The
second variable is people’s self-perception about adop-
ting healthy habits (Monteagudo et al., 2014).
Ten questions were included to learn the reasons
for blueberry consumption; respondents were asked
to make a hedonic evaluation of each reason for con-
suming blueberries using a 7-point scale where 1 is the
Material and methods
To meet the objective of the present study, a speci-
cally designed survey was applied to a representative
sample in the Biobío Region, which is the second most
populated region in Chile and the rst for blueberry
production. Before applying the questionnaire, pre-
test and pilot questionnaires were applied to 30 and 80
people, respectively, allowing us to improve question
wording, section order and structure, and eliminate
some questions. The respondents declared that they
participated in household purchase decisions and were
over 18 years of age. A total of 344 participants were
selected from a sample that was stratied for sex, age,
and residential sector. Information to stratify the sample
was obtained from the National Statistics Institute of
Chile (INE, 2012).
The survey was divided into three sections. The
rst section characterized the buyer as well as his/
her blueberry consumption habits. The second section
was addressed to measure healthy lifestyles (HLS) of
participants. Respondents also had to indicate their
weight expressed in kilograms and height in meters to
determine the nutritional status measured by the body
mass index (BMI). They were also consulted about
their self-perception about adopting healthy habits. The
third
section included some sociodemographic questions
(age
, sex, civil status, education, and occupation)
and traditional economic factors (income, price, and
budget). The eld work was conducted between May
and June 2015. Table 1 lists the sampling characteristics.
One of the novelties of the present study is the
measurement of the HLS. Criteria established by the
World Health Organization (WHO) were used, and
the available literature points out that the HLS is a
variable consisting of multiple factors, some of which
are: i) a well-balanced diet (considered the easiest to
adopt and most widely studied in the literature), ii)
engaging in physical activity, iii) smoking prevention,
and iv) alcohol prevention (WHO, 1999). The adoption
of HLS must consider a balanced diet (Lichtenstein
Table 1. Sampling characteristics.
Items Background information
Universe People from dierent census districts (cd) in the city of Chillán (cd1, cd2,
cd3, cd13, cd14, and cd15) over 18 years of age
Sample size 344 participants
Error e = 5.35%
Level of signicance 95.5% (Z = 2)
Pre-test and pilot questionnaire 30 and 80 questionnaires, respectively
Field work Downtown at the exit of the shopping mall and dierent city supermarkets
Survey application date May to June 2015
Rodrigo Romo-Muñoz, Jairo Dote-Pardo, Héctor Garrido-Henríquez, et al.
Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research December 2019 • Volume 17 • Issue 4 • e0111
4
Table 2. Factors that determine the adoption of healthy lifestyles (HLS) based on World
Health Organization (WHO, 2015a) recommendations.
Factors Categories Values Frequency Signicance
Food Fast food consumption 0≥ 1 per week Unhealthy
1 Never Healthya
Vegetable consumption 0≤ 3 per week Unhealthy
1 Every day Healthya
Fruit consumption 0≤ 3 per week Unhealthy
1 Every day Healthya
Dairy product consumption 0≤ 3 per week Unhealthy
1 Every daybHealthya
Meat, sh, and seafood consumption 0≤ 3 per week Unhealthy
1 Every daycHealthya
Physical activity Engaging in physical activity 0 < 2 per week Unhealthy
1≥ 2 per week Healthya
Smoking Smokes 0 No Healthy
1Yes Unhealthya
Alcohol consumption Frequency of alcohol consumptiond0 > 40 mL daily Unhealthy
1 Never Healthya
aRecommendation established by the WHO. bDairy product consumption should be balanced and
low fat. cCorresponds to an alternating consumption of red and white meat, sh, and seafood.
dCorresponds to alcoholic beverages in general.
minimum score and 7 is the maximum (evaluation
scale used in the Chilean educational system). A
factorial analysis was performed to regroup the
dierent reasons for consumption into a few factors.
Results are shown in Table 3. Three factors were
obtained that explained 58% of the variance of the
original questions. The factors were dened as
“health benet”, “external reasons”, and “taste and
custom”.
One third of the sample declared not to consume
blueberries, so we faced a problem of zero responses.
In such circumstances, estimating a demand equation
by Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) leads to biased
parameters. To address this issue, in this study we
have adopted the Heckman’s (1979) selection model
approach, which can be represented by the following
two equations:
The rst equation, the Participation Equation, is
dened as:
zi = w'γi + ui
(1)
where zi is a latent variable that represents blueberry
consumption utility, γi is a vector of the individual’s
characteristics, and ui is an error term.
The second equation, the Regression Equation, or
demand function, is dened as:
y
i
= x
i
β + ɛ
i
(2)
where y
i
is the quantity consumed per week by the
household, which is observed only when zi >0 , xi is a
vector of the individual’s characteristics, and ɛi is an
error term. Therefore, u
i
and ɛ
i
have a normal bivariate
distribution with correlation ρ. One of the main
ad-
vantages of this approach, as opposed to the Tobit
model, is that explanatory variables in both equations
can be dierent.
When combining both equations so as to take
into account the self-selection process, the model is
expressed as (Greene, 2013):
E[yi | yi is observed] = E[yi | zi > 0]
= E[xi β + βλλi (αu)] (3)
where βλ = ρσɛ, λi(αu) = , which corres-
ponds to inverse Mills’ ratio
1
. The parameters σ
ɛ
and σ
u
are the standard deviation of ɛ
i
and u
i
, res-
pectively. Therefore, (·) and (·) denote the density
and distribution function of a normal random variable.
Equation (3) shows that the consumed quantity of
blueberries can only be observed when consump-
tion utility is positive. It also shows the relationship
1Ratio between the probability that an individual decides to consume blueberries and the cumulative probability of the decision of an
individual in the sample.
*
*
*
'
'
*
'
'
( /)
() ( /)
iu
iu
iu
w
w
φ γσ
λα γσ
= − Φ
)(
φ
)(Φ
Blueberry consumption and healthy lifestyles in an emerging market
Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research December 2019 • Volume 17 • Issue 4 • e0111
5
between expected blueberry consumption and Mills’
ratio.
If sample selection bias is omitted, a problem
occurs with the omitted variable, which generates
inconsistent and biased estimators (Greene, 2013).
The previously described model can be estimated by
maximum likelihood or a two-step method (Heckman,
1979). Estimation by maximum likelihood was chosen
in the present study because, in the absence of multi-
collinearity, the estimator is more ecient than the one
obtained by the two-step method (Hall, 1999; Leung
& Yu, 2000). The explanatory variables used in the
estimation of both equations are given in Table 4.
Results
Based on the data obtained from the respondents in
the rst section of the questionnaire, households2 were
classied into four categories taking into account the
household weekly consumption during the blueberries
season (summer): over 3 kg (23%); between 1 and 3 kg
(20%), up to 1 kg (24%); and no consumption (33%).
Sample characteristics for each segment as well as for
the whole sample are shown in Table 5.
In relation to the adoption of HLS scale (see Table
2), 21% of the sample got the highest score (7 to 8
points), which mostly included people who consumed
more blueberries per week (37%). As for the nutritional
status, although 52% of the sample was overweight
(41%) and obese (11%), the self-perception of healthy
habits was mostly high (37%) and medium (56%).
Meanwhile, high self-perception mostly consisted of
people who consumed more than 3 kg per week (32%).
Most people also recognized that the blueberry is a
natural functional food with health benets (77%), and
this acknowledgment was mostly related to those who
consumed blueberries in the three categories (75%).
Although a large part of the sample did not know about
the leadership position of the Biobío Region regarding
national production (63%), most of those who did know
this fact were respondents with the highest consumption
level (38%).
The most relevant sociodemographic variables were
related to women, who were the majority of those
consuming blueberries in one of the three categories
(73%); this was similar to what occurred with those
with a university education (70%), a monthly income
range over $600,000 (74%), and aged between 35 and
50 (73%).
Results from the Heckman’s Selection Model
are shown in Table 6. As mentioned in the previous
section we have assumed that consumers adopt two
consecutive decisions: to consume or not blueberries
(the participation equation) and, in case they decide to
consume, how much they are willing to consume (the
regression equation). The blueberries consumption
variable was transformed in natural logs in the second
equation as well as self-perception, price and budget
allocated to food.
The participation equation was estimated as a probit
model. As can be observed in Table 6, apart from
some sociodemographic variables, main determinants
for the decision to participate in the market (to buy
Table 3. Factorial analysis of the reasons to consume blueberries.
Main reasons to consume blueberries
Components
Mean Standard
deviation
Health benet External reasons Taste and
custom
Because it is benecial for health 0.76 - - 6.10 1.66
For its high antioxidant content 0.77 - - 5.13 2.23
Because it improves blood circulation 0.71 - - 4.30 2.45
High ber content 0.69 - - 4.37 2.42
Low calorie product 0.58 - - 4.52 2.39
I have greater purchasing power - 0.71 - 3.09 2.32
Recommended by the doctor - 0.77 - 2.20 2.03
I have decided to include healthy products in
my diet - 0.63 - 4.18 2.42
I like its taste and texture - 0.82 5.97 1.69
My family likes to consume this fruit - - 0.74 4.89 2.24
Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of sampling adequacy: 0.786. Chi-square: 504.376. Bartlett’s sphericity test: 45 degrees of freedom; signicance,
0.000. Cronbach’s alfa: 0.776
2 e household size within the simple was 3.3, a bit over the national average, which is 3.1.
Rodrigo Romo-Muñoz, Jairo Dote-Pardo, Héctor Garrido-Henríquez, et al.
Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research December 2019 • Volume 17 • Issue 4 • e0111
6
blueberries), for Chilean households, are their self-
perception about following healthy habits and their
the perception of blueberries as a functional food. As
coecients estimated in the participation equation only
highlight the direction of the eect, in order to quantify
their magnitude, we have calculated the marginal eects
(Table 7). Results indicate that when self-perception
of healthy habits increases by 1%, the probability of
consuming blueberries increases by approximately
3.57%. For those people who identied the blueberry as
a natural functional food, the probability of consuming
blueberries also increased by approximately 28.6%.
Something similar occurred with people who knew that
the Biobío Region has the largest national production,
which increased the probability of consuming the fruit
by approximately 20.01%. As for the sociodemographic
variables, age and income range were signicant.
People between 35 and 50 increased the probability
of consuming blueberries by approximately 11.78%.
This result diers from previous studies which found
that there was a negative association between age
and blueberries consumption (Hu et al., 2010; 2011).
However, in the latter case, the focus was on processed
blueberry products when we are dealing with fresh
blueberries. Monthly income over $600,000 increased
the probability of consuming the fruit by approximately
11.14% in relation to the reference category.
Results from the second equation (the demand
equa-
tion) are shown in the lower part of Table 6. It is
important to note that the parameter associated with the
inverse relationship of Mills’ ratio (Lambda) is negative
and signicant, indicating there was a downward sample
selection bias problem. In other words, the proportion
of censored observations should be increased to balance
the ratio between those who consumed blueberries and
those who did not.
Results from the demand equation suggest that the
demand for blueberries is positively associated to the
adoption of healthy lifestyles (HLS). In fact, an increase
of 1 point in the HLS scale generated an increase of
the weekly consumption of blueberries by 0.06%. The
BMI was also positive and signicant, indicating that
increasing the BMI contributed to increase also blue-
berries consumption. This apparently contradictory re-
sult with the previous one has to be interpreted with
caution. First, the HLS scale was based on frequency of
Table 4. Explanatory variables used to estimate the Sample Selection model.
Variable Category
Blueberry consumption Household weekly blueberries consumption during the producing season
(summer).
Adoption of healthy lifestyle (HLS) Quantitative variable that describes the level of HLS adoption by the respond-
ents using a scale from 0 to 8.
Body mass index (BMI) Dummy variable that takes the value 1 if the head of the household is obese or
overweight, and 0, otherwise.
Self-perception of healthy habits
(Self-perception)
Quantitative variable that describes the respondent’s self-perception of healthy
habits using a hedonic evaluation scale from 1 to 7.
Reasons to consume blueberries (Reasons) Continuous variable that establishes three factors that group reasons for
consuming the fruit: Factor 1, Health benet; Factor 2, External reasons; Factor
3, Taste and custom.
Knowledge about blueberry as a natural
functional food (Blueberry functional food)
Dummy variable that is assigned the value of 1 if the respondent knows that the
blueberry is a natural functional food and 0 otherwise.
Knowledge about the region as the largest
national producer (Producing region)
Dummy variable that is assigned the value of 1 if the respondent knows that the
region has the highest national blueberry production and 0 otherwise.
Frozen blueberries Quantitative variable that scores the consumption of frozen blueberries using a
scale from 1 to 7.
Price Continuous variable that describes the price paid per kg of blueberries the last
time the person bought the fruit.
Food budget (Budget) Quantitative variable that describes the person’s monthly food budget in
retailers.
Age (years) Three-level categorical variable: 1) between 18 and 34; 2) between 35 and 50;
and 3) over 50
Level of completed education (Education) Dummy variable that is assigned the value of 1 if the respondent has university
education and 0 otherwise.
Income level (Income) Dummy variable that is assigned the value of 1 if the respondent has an
income over 600,000 Chilean Pesos; and 0 otherwise (Exchange rate: 1 USD =
630 Chilean Pesos)
Blueberry consumption and healthy lifestyles in an emerging market
Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research December 2019 • Volume 17 • Issue 4 • e0111
7
consumption but not on quantities consumed. Second,
in most countries there is a positive relationship
between age and BMI. In our model, the eect of
age on consumption is not relevant, indicating some
collinearity with BMI.
Regarding blueberry consumption motivators, two
of the three factors included in the model were positive
and signicant, indicating that the main reasons for
blueberries consumption are associated with health
benets, either because this product is perceived as
healthy or by doctors’ recommendation. This result
was also found in other countries like Italy (Girgenti
et al., 2016) or the USA market (Gilbert et al., 2014).
Likewise, consumers who show a strong preference for
the frozen presentation consumed larger quantities of
blueberries.
The demand for blueberries was price inelastic as
a 1% increase in the price generated a decrease in the
weekly consumption by 0.25%. Similar results were
Table 5. Sample characteristics and segments based on blueberries consumption.
VariableaCategories (N) %
Quantity consumed per week per householdb during
the season (summer)
> 3 kg 1 - 3 kg < 1 kg No
Blueberries consumption*** Yes (231) 67% 35% 30% 35% -
No (113) 33% - - - 100%
Adoption of heathy lifestyles (HLS)*** 5-8 points (73) 21% 37% 22% 18% 23%
3-4 points (134) 39% 26% 20% 20% 34%
0-2 points (137) 40% 14% 19% 30% 37%
Body mass index (BMI) Normal (165) 48% 21% 21% 24% 34%
Overweight (142) 41% 24% 17% 25% 34%
Obesity (37) 11% 32% 27% 14% 27%
Self-perception** High (126) 37% 32% 23% 20% 25%
Medium (192) 56% 18% 20% 25% 37%
Low (26) 7% 19% 8% 35% 38%
Blueberry functional food*** Yes (266) 77% 26% 23% 26% 25%
No (78) 23% 13% 11% 17% 59%
Producing region*** Yes (127) 37% 38% 24% 20% 18%
No (217) 63% 15% 18% 25% 42%
Sex* Female (180) 52% 24% 23% 26% 27%
Male (164) 48% 22% 17% 21% 40%
Education** University (153) 44% 27% 25% 18% 30%
High school (191) 56% 20% 16% 28% 36%
Income** > $ 600,000 (132) 38% 27% 26% 21% 26%
$ 600,000 (212) 62% 21% 17% 25% 37%
Age (years)*** 18 to 34 (170) 49% 21% 22% 22% 35%
35 to 50 (101) 29% 18% 23% 32% 27%
> 50 (73) 22% 37% 11% 16% 36%
Total n =344 100% 23% 20% 24% 33%
a *, **, ***: p < 0.1, 0.05, 0.01, respectively. bThe average household size within the sample was 3.3.
found in the USA dealing with processed blueberry-
based products (Hu et al., 2009; 2010). However,
Girgenti et al. (2016) did not nd any signicant
relationship between price and consumption in Italy.
The budget allocated to food at retailers has been used
as a proxy of food expenditure. As can be shown, this
coecient is 0.28%, indicating that blueberries is a
normal good (necessity), which is similar to the result
found in previous studies (Nicholson & Snyder, 2008;
Andreyeva et al., 2010).
Discussion
The present study contributes to advancing knowledge
of the factors that determine blueberry consumption in
an emerging market. The proposed objective was to
analyze the determinants of blueberry consumption in
Chile and evaluate to what extent traditional economic
Rodrigo Romo-Muñoz, Jairo Dote-Pardo, Héctor Garrido-Henríquez, et al.
Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research December 2019 • Volume 17 • Issue 4 • e0111
8
Table 6. Heckman model estimated results.
Selection equation
Constant -1.38 (0.42)***
ln (self-perception) 0.13 (0.07)**
Blueberry functional food 0.89 (0.18)***
Producing region 0.67 (0.16)***
Age (years)
Between 35 and 50 0.37 (0.18)**
Over 50 0.03 (0.20)
Education 0.04 (0.17)
Income 0.31 (0.17)*
Regression equation
Constant 1.84 (0.94)**
Healthy lifestyles (HLS) 0.06 (0.02)***
Body mass index (BMI) 0.03 (0.01)***
Factor
Health benet 0.11 (0.04)***
External reasons 0.06 (0.03)**
Taste and custom 0.05 (0.03)
Frozen product 0.03 (0.01)**
ln (price) −0.25 (0.09)***
ln (food budget) 0.28 (0.15)*
Age (years)
Between 35 and 50 −0.08 (0.08)
Over 50 −0.04 (0.10)
Lambda −0.18 (0.11)*
SBIC: 781.1868 | AIC: 739.9299 | HQC: 756.5721
ln: Natural logarithm; SBIC: Schwarz criterion; AIC: Akaike in-
formation criterion; HQC: Hannan-Quinn information criterion.
*, **, ***: p < 0.1, 0.05, 0.01, respectively; standard error in
brackets.
factors, such as income and price, are more determinant
than other more attitudinal and lifestyle factors. Re-
sults suggest that in both the selection and regression
equations the variables associated with attitudinal
and lifestyle factors (HLS adoption, BMI, and self-
perception of healthy habits) had a signicant impact
on the decision to consume blueberries and the quantity
to be consumed. However, the impact of traditional
factors, such as income and price, was greater than the
attitudinal and lifestyle factors.
The literature dealing with blueberries consumption
is not very large and it is mainly concentrated in
developed and consuming markets. Moreover, only few
studies focus on fresh blueberries while the majority
analyze processed blueberry-based products or drinks.
In any case, most of our ndings are consistent with
previous work. For instance, the expansion of the fresh
blueberry market in USA and Canada is determined
by a combination of factors, which include not only
socioeconomic characteristics of the population but
also the perception of blueberries as a healthy
fruit as well as its taste (Gilbert et al., 2014). In the
case of Italy, in which blueberries are considered a
premium fruit and their consumption is still marginal,
freshness and origin are considered the most important
determinants in consumers’ choices (Girgenti et al.,
2016). In the case of studies focusing on processed
blueberry-based products, results found in the literature
slightly dier from our ndings, simply because
consumption determinants also dier as they include
specic attributes of processed products as sugar-free
or organic. In any case, as in our study, price as well
as sociodemographic characteristics seem to explain
consumers’ decisions (Hu et al., 2009; 2010; and 2011).
However, it is important to note that in previous works
there was not any dierentiation between the decision
to consume and the quantity consumed, as we have
carried out in this study.
The Chilean market is dierent from those mentio-
ned above, as Chile is also an important producing
country with an important export orientation. Chilean
consumers are more aware and have a better knowledge
about blueberries as they are part of their cultural and
gastronomic traditions. In spite of this, the literature on
this topic is very scarce, as we are aware only about the
study carried out by Schnettler et al. (2011). Our study
share some conclusions with the latter showing that
economic factors, such as price, as well as consumers’
sociodemographic characteristics are key factors in
purchasing decisions. However, this study diers
as we have also included some attitudinal variables,
which were not considered before as well as in the
methodological framework.
Results from this study provide useful information
to be used by both policy makers and marketing
managers. Chilean consumers perceive blueberries
as a
healthy product, which can contribute to adopt
healthier
lifestyles. Nowadays, still a signicant
share
on Chilean production is exported, leaving “lower”
Table 7. Average marginal eects in the Selection equation.
Variables
Self-perception 0.04 (0.02)**
Blueberry functional food 0.28 (0.05)***
Producing region 0.20 (0.05)***
Age (years)
Between 35 and 50 0.12 (0.06)**
Over 50 0.01 (0.06)
Education 0.03 (0.05)
Income 0.11 (0.05)**
*, **, ***: p < 0.1, 0.05, 0.01, respectively; standard error in
brackets.
Blueberry consumption and healthy lifestyles in an emerging market
Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research December 2019 • Volume 17 • Issue 4 • e0111
9
quality blueberries for domestic consumption. Ho-
wever, it seems to exist an increasing demand. Public
policies could incorporate blueberries in government
food programs, such as the “5 A Day Program” and
the “Dietary guidelines for the Chilean population”
(Zacarías et al., 2006). An Alliance could also be
established between local producers and the National
Sports Institute (IND) to promote blueberry consumption
in local sports com-petitions to better link blueberries
consumption to healthy lifestyles. On the other hand,
a combination of marketing strategies implemented by
producers or retail companies is necessary to promote
this product. Domestic markets should be supplied
with higher quality product taking into account that
the demand is price inelastic. Moreover, branding and
packaging with functional claims could be an ecient
strategy to increase domestic consumption (i.e. source
on natural antioxidant, high ber content, etc.).
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Vaccinium darrowii is a subtropical wild blueberry species, which was used to breed economically important southern highbush cultivars. The adaptation traits of V. darrowii to subtropical climate would provide valuable information for breeding blueberry and perhaps other plants, especially against the background of global warming. Here, we assembled the V. darrowii genome into 12 pseudochoromosomes using Oxford Nanopore long reads complemented with Hi-C scaffolding technologies, and predicted 41 815 genes using RNAseq evidence. Syntenic analysis across three Vaccinium species revealed a highly conserved genome structure, with the highest collinearity between V. darrowii and V. corymbosum . This conserved genome structure may explain the high fertilization during crossbreeding between V. darrowii and other blueberry cultivars. Gene expansion and tandem duplication analysis indicated possible roles of defense and flowering associated genes in adaptation of V. darrowii to the subtropics. The possible SOC1 genes in V. darrowii were identified with phylogeny and expression analysis. Blueberries are covered in a thick cuticle layer and contain anthocyanins, which confer their powdery blue color. Using RNA-sequencing, the cuticle biosynthesis pathways of Vaccinium species were delineated here in V. darrowii . This result could serve as a reference for breeding berries with customer-desired colors. The V. darrowii reference genome, together with the unique traits of this species, including diploid genome, short vegetative phase, and high compatibility in hybridization with other blueberries, make V. darrowii a potential research model for blueberry species.
... Blueberries are functional foods, and their consumption has increased because of their positive effects on people's well-being and health (Romo-Muñoz et al., 2020). In Chile, blueberry production has increased during the last year concentrating 20% of worldwide production (Brazelton and Young, 2017). ...
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... Worldwide blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) production, for both processed and fresh market, has increased over the last decade making blueberry becoming the second most important soft fruit species after strawberry (Romo-Muñoz et al., 2019). Fresh market production, for instance, rose from about 270,000 tons to 370,000 tons in only 4 years (2012-2016, https://www. ...
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