Home Money WTF is with the pink pineapples in the supermarket?!

WTF is with the pink pineapples in the supermarket?!

0 comment
WTF is with the pink pineapples in the supermarket?!

In a recent On a trip to Giant Eagle, my local grocery store in Pittsburgh, I noticed something new in the fruit section: a single pineapple packaged in a pink and forest green box. An image on the front showed the pineapple cut open, revealing pink flesh. Considered the “jewel of the jungle,” the fruit was the Pinkglow pineapple, a creation of American food giant Fresh Del Monte. It costs $9.99, a little more than double the price of a regular yellow pineapple.

I put the box in my cart, took a photo with my phone, and shared the find with my foodie friends. I mentioned that its color is the result of genetic modification (the box included a label that said “made possible by bioengineering”), but that didn’t seem to faze anyone. When I brought my Pinkglow to a Super Bowl party, people oohed and aahed at the color and then devoured it. It was juicier and less acidic than a normal pineapple, and there was another difference: it came with the characteristic cut crown. Soon enough, my friends were also buying pink pineapples. One used a Pinkglow to make homemade tepache, a fermented drink made from pineapple peels that was invented in pre-Columbian Mexico.

In a time when orange cauliflower and white strawberries are commonplace in American grocery stores, a non-yellow pineapple doesn’t seem so out of place. Even so, I asked myself: Why now with such an eye-catching presentation? And why pink? And why did my friends and I buy it right away?

when I brought My questions to Hans Sauter, Fresh Del Monte’s chief sustainability officer and senior vice president of R&D and agricultural services, began by offering me a brief history of the fruit. You might assume, as I did, that pineapples have always been sweet and sunny-colored, but that wasn’t the case before the 1990s. Store-bought pineapples of yesteryear had a green peel with yellow-colored flesh. Of course it was often more sour than sweet. Buying a new one was a gamble. “No one could really tell if the fruit was ripe or not, and the consumption of pineapples was mainly canned product, because people could trust what they would eat there,” says Sauter. The sugar added to some canned pineapples made them a sweeter and more consistent product.

In 1996, the company introduced Del Monte Gold Extra Sweet, yellower and less acidic than any product available on the market at the time. Pineapple sales skyrocketed and consumer expectations of the fruit changed forever. The popularity of Gold sparked an international pineapple dispute when rival Dole introduced its own variety. Del Monte filed a lawsuit, alleging that Dole had essentially stolen its Gold formula. The two companies ended up reaching an out-of-court agreement.

With the success of its Gold pineapple, Del Monte was looking for new attributes that could make the pineapple even more attractive to consumers, Sauter says. But growing pineapples is a slow process; It can take two years or more for a single plant to produce mature fruit. Del Monte had spent 30 years breeding pineapples with certain desired characteristics before he was ready to launch Gold. Sauter says the possibility of waiting another 30 years for a new variety was “out of the question.” That’s why in 2005 the company turned to genetic engineering.

Del Monte didn’t set out to make a pink pineapple per se, but at the time, Sauter says, there was consumer interest in antioxidant-rich fruits. (Acai bowls and pomegranate juice, anyone?) Pineapples naturally convert a reddish-pink pigment called lycopene, which is rich in antioxidants, into the yellow pigment beta-carotene. (Lycopene is what gives color to tomatoes and watermelon). So preventing this process could produce pink flesh and higher antioxidants. The company tasked its dedicated pineapple research team with figuring out how to do it.

The team obtained a set of three modifications of the pineapple genome. They inserted DNA from a tangerine so that it expressed more lycopene. They added “silencing” RNA molecules to silence the pineapple’s own lycopene-converting enzymes, which also helped reduce its acidity. (RNA silencing is the same technique used to produce non-browning transgenic arctic apples.) Finally, Del Monte added a tobacco gene that confers resistance to certain herbicides, although company representatives say this was simply so its scientists could confirm that the other genetic changes had taken effect, not because Del Monte planned to use those. herbicides in production.

You may also like