Climate change alters apples’ flavor

Fuji apple lovers, take note: According to a new study in Scientific Reports, global warming is making this popular fruit variety softer and sweeter.

We’ve heard that climate change is altering everything from coral reefs to airplane turbulence. But “the effects of climate change on the taste and textural attributes of foods remain largely unknown,” the authors write. The apple is one of the world’s most beloved fruits; farmers grow about 60 million tonnes per year.

At orchards in Japan, the team studied Fuji apples from 1970 to 2010 and Tsugaru apples from 1980 to 2010. Each decade, the annual average air temperature at the two sites increased by 0.31 to 0.34 degrees Celsius, and the date when the apples reached full bloom crept one to two days earlier.

Over that time period, the apples’ acid level and firmness dropped, the researchers found. The fruit also contained more soluble solids, an indication of sweetness. “These results suggest that the taste and textural attributes of apples in the market are undergoing change from a long-term perspective, even though consumers might not perceive these subtle changes,” the team writes. Roberta Kwok | 15 August 2013

Source: Sugiura, T. et al. 2013. Changes in the taste and textural attributes of apples in response to climate change. Scientific Reports doi: 10.1038/srep02418.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the study appeared in Nature Climate Change. It was in fact published in Scientific Reports.

Image © Peter Zijlstra | Shutterstock