WTF Is With the Pink Pineapples on the Grocery Retailer?!

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On a current journey to Large Eagle, my native grocery retailer in Pittsburgh, I observed one thing new within the fruit part: a single pineapple packaged in a pink and forest-green field. An image on the entrance confirmed the pineapple minimize open, revealing rose-colored flesh. Touted because the “jewel of the jungle,” the fruit was the Pinkglow pineapple, a creation of American meals large Contemporary Del Monte. It value $9.99, somewhat greater than double the value of a daily yellow pineapple.I put the field in my cart, snapped an image with my phone, and shared the discover with my foodie mates. I discussed that its coloration is the results of genetic modification—the field included a “made potential via bioengineering” label—however that didn’t appear to faze anybody. Once I introduced my Pinkglow to a Tremendous Bowl get together, individuals oohed and aahed over the colour after which wolfed it down. It was juicier and fewer tart than a daily pineapple, and there was one other distinction: It got here with the attribute crown chopped off. Quickly sufficient, my mates have been shopping for pink pineapples too. One used a Pinkglow to brew selfmade tepache, a fermented drink produced from pineapple peels that was invented in pre-Columbian Mexico.At a time when orange cauliflower and white strawberries at the moment are widespread sights in American grocery shops, a non-yellow pineapple doesn’t appear all that misplaced. Nonetheless, I questioned: Why now with the flashy presentation? And why pink? And why had my mates and I snapped it proper up?Once I introduced my inquiries to Hans Sauter, Contemporary Del Monte’s chief sustainability officer and senior vp of R&D and agricultural providers, he started by providing me a short historical past of the fruit. You might assume, like I did, that pineapples have all the time been candy and sunny-colored—however that wasn’t the case previous to the Nineteen Nineties. Retailer-bought pineapples of yesteryear had a inexperienced shell with gentle yellow flesh that was typically extra tart than candy. Shopping for a recent one was a little bit of a bet. “No person might inform, actually, whether or not the fruit was ripe or not, and consumption of pineapples was largely canned product, as a result of individuals might belief what they might eat there,” Sauter says. The added sugar in some canned pineapple made it a sweeter, extra constant product.In 1996 the corporate launched the Del Monte Gold Additional Candy, yellower and fewer acidic than something available on the market on the time. Pineapple gross sales soared, and shoppers’ expectations of the fruit have been eternally modified. The recognition of the Gold led to a world pineapple feud when fruit rival Dole launched its personal varietal. Del Monte sued, alleging that Dole had primarily stolen its Gold components. The 2 firms ended up settling out of court docket.“It is a social meals. That is to point out off to different individuals. ‘Hey, look what I’ve that you simply don’t. This makes me cool, proper?’”With the success of its Gold pineapple, Del Monte was searching for new attributes that might make the pineapple much more engaging to shoppers, Sauter says. However breeding pineapples is a gradual course of; it could possibly take two years or longer for a single plant to supply mature fruit. Del Monte had spent 30 years crossbreeding pineapples with sure desired traits earlier than it was able to launch the Gold. Sauter says the potential for ready 30 extra years for a brand new selection was “out of the query.” So in 2005 the corporate turned to genetic engineering.Del Monte didn’t got down to make a pink pineapple per se, however on the time, Sauter says, there was curiosity from shoppers in antioxidant-rich fruits. (Acai bowls and pomegranate juice, anybody?) Pineapples occur to naturally convert a reddish-pink pigment referred to as lycopene, which is excessive in antioxidants, into the yellow pigment beta-carotene. (Lycopene is what offers tomatoes and watermelon their coloration.) Stopping this course of, then, might yield pink flesh and better antioxidants. The corporate set its devoted pineapple analysis staff to the duty of determining do it.The staff landed on a set of three modifications to the pineapple genome. They inserted DNA from a tangerine to get it to specific extra lycopene. They added “silencing” RNA molecules to mute the pineapple’s personal lycopene-converting enzymes, which additionally helped cut back its acidity. (RNA silencing is identical approach used to make non-browning GMO Arctic apples.) Lastly, Del Monte added a gene from tobacco that confers resistance to sure herbicides, although representatives for the corporate say this was just so its scientists might verify that the opposite genetic modifications had taken impact—not as a result of Del Monte plans to make use of these herbicides in manufacturing.

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