UA Divsion of Agriculture

Major Research Programs

within the Institute of Food Science and Engineering

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Production, Development, and Marketing of Value-added Horticultural Products

     Fruit and vegetable production in Arkansas Fresh peaches and the Ozark Region is dominated by small, family-owned operations. Given adequate market opportunities, these farms can be viable economic enterprises. However, consolidation has made access to fresh produce markets more difficult and small farms have come to rely more and more on direct marketing through farmers markets, roadside stands, and pick-your-own operations. These outlets are inadequate to handle the volume of fresh produce during peak seasons and spoilage losses are significant for many farms. As a result, the number of small fruit and vegetable farms is declining and the infrastructure that supports these farms is disappearing.

     This program is aimed at providing alternative market outlets for regional produce crops by helping small producers develop successful marketing and production systems. Aspects being addressed are major constraints in the development, commercialization, and marketing of value-added fruit and vegetable products. Also being addressed are the research and educational/outreach needs of small farmers and processors at each stage of the marketing channel.

Blanching peaches
Product development will offer new markets for fresh produce.

     Major research thrusts involve:

  • improvements in cultural practices,
  • formulation and evaluation of new products,
  • consumer acceptance trials,
  • development of affordable further processing techniques and machinery,
  • analyses of marketing channels accessible to small producers and producer owned businesses.

     In addition, comprehensive training programs will be implemented throughout the study region. These will emphasize important food safety aspects of value-added processing and include background on good agricultural practices and good manufacturing practices. Training programs will also address the legal, financial, and marketing background needed to develop and strengthen value added enterprises.

     IFSE researchers working with this program have developed a number of publications aimed at meeting program goals. These include: