David H. Picha
A recently completed Borlaug Fellowship training program in food compositional analyses and value-added product development has set the stage for future commercialization of smoothies and nutritional beverages using sweet potatoes, Louisiana’s leading vegetable crop.
The fellow is Tran Thi Dinh, head of the Department of Food Processing Technology, Faculty of Food Science and Technology, at Vietnam National University of Agriculture in Hanoi. Dinh is engaged in teaching and research in postharvest technology and food processing that will support the Vietnamese food industry.
During the Borlaug Fellow training program, a series of analytical tests were conducted to delineate the sugar composition, carotenoid content, nutritional value and flavor profile of multiple sweet potato cultivars and breeding lines. This basic information will be useful in optimizing nutritional and flavor attributes desired by consumers of smoothies, purees and natural food product beverages.
U.S. and Vietnamese consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the nutritional value and composition of the foods they eat, and sweet potato-based products score high in positive health-related ingredients. The Borlaug Fellow training work revealed the AgCenter-developed Evangeline and Bayou Belle sweet potato cultivars have superior taste and flavor and are among the highest in vitamin A content compared to other cultivars.
Future collaborative research activities and opportunities for developing sweet potato smoothies and other value-added sweet potato-based products in Vietnam to improve the nutritional value of rural populations were a result of the Borlaug Fellow training activities.
David H. Picha is a professor in the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences.
This article appears in the spring 2018 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.
Borlaug Fellow Tran Thi Dinh, second from right, and LSU AgCenter faculty mentor David Picha, left, meet with Vietnamese vegetable growers and researchers in Ben Tre Province, Vietnam.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture