A pineapple for $400: the emergence of luxury fruits

A pineapple for $400: the emergence of luxury fruits

Imagine that you have $400 to spend on a luxurious dining experience. You may reward yourself with a can of high-quality caviar, a bottle or two of very good wine, or a multi-dish meal in a high-end restaurant.

Or you can waste everything on a pineapple.

Rubyglow pineapple is cultivated for its unique red appearance and sweetness, and is sold at Melissa’s Produce, a California specialty fruit and vegetable seller, for $395.99. Del Monte is a wholesaler that sells a variety of agricultural products but specializes in the production of pineapples. It took 15 years to develop this red fruit. Earlier this year, China launched a limited number of crops for the first time. Recently, Delmont decided to see how the product performed in the United States, and Melissa began to sell it at an astronomical price.

This does not seem to be the best time to sell a (very, very) expensive fruit in the United States. Not long ago, the soaring food prices also made headlines, putting pressure on consumers and straining their budgets. Still worried about inflation and unemployment, many Americans are now reducing their consumption.

However, people’s interest in high-quality fruits is enough to convince Delmont to bring the ruby red wine grown by Costa Rica to the United States.

Cindy van Rijswick, a fresh agricultural product strategist at Rabobank’s global research team, said: “Consumers are willing to pay for something special.” When it comes to specialty agricultural products, “the market for high-end restaurants, gourmets or some online channels is always small,” she said. When it comes to specialty produce, “there’s always a small market for higher-end restaurants, or fo Odies, or certain online channels,” she said.

In recent years, Americans have been particularly interested in new fruit varieties. They have paid high prices for crispy apples, marshmallow grapes, sumo citrus and vertically growing Japanese strawberries. Now, they are eager for different types of fruits and are ready to pay for exciting new choices.

But a 400-yuan pineapple is a little exaggerated.

The rise of high-quality fruits

When Honey Crisp was launched more than 30 years ago, there were not many apples to choose from in the supermarket.

Jim Luby, a professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the University of Minnesota, recalled that red-crowned apples, golden-crowned apples, and McIntosh Apple in some areas are all apples. The standard configuration. But that’s all.” If you don’t go to the local orchard, you don’t have so many choices.

Although Honeycrisp Apple is expensive, it has achieved great success.

People are eager for more, and Honeycrisp meets their requirements – sweet, crisp and novel.

“It’s very popular among growers in Minnesota,” said Luby, who is a member of the variety development team. There is not that much production. So the price is very high. But it has been selling all the time.” “There wasn’t that much production. So it was priced high. And yet it kept selling.”

Selling new products is an expensive thing. Researchers must breed and crossbreed, wait for the growth cycle to end, and start again if the fruit is disappointing. It takes time and hard work to find delicious and elastic food to achieve commercial success. Then, plant scientists must persuade growers to invest in an unproven fruit and invest in resources that could have been used to grow people’s favorite fruits.

But Honeycrisp’s help shows that this risk makes sense.

Since the success of apples, the variety of agricultural products has increased.

Rabobank quoted the U.S. Department of Agriculture as saying that the per capita accessibility of high-priced fruits such as berries, mangoes and avocados (a good measure of consumption) has increased in the past decade. During this period, the supply of cheaper fruits such as apples and bananas remained basically stable.

Some specialty fruits have even developed followers of worship: these marshmallow grapes, named for their sweetness, were launched in 2011 and quickly became popular. Sumo citrus is a hybrid of navel, grapefruit and citrus. It is more like a slow burning, but it has flourished in recent years.

Sumo citrus and other fruit varieties have developed a cult follower.

In these cases, consumers are willing to spend a little more money. However, compared with the specialty strawberries in Dashi County, these products are very cheap. The characteristic strawberries of Dashi County grow on a vertical farm with a controllable climate. When its berries were first opened to the public in 2018, Oishii cost $50 for each of eight.

Oishii sells more than just berries: it sells a luxury. The berries are wrapped in a flat box, highlighting each individual fruit, more like the packaging of handmade chocolate truffles, rather than the plastic containers with hidden molds you see in the supermarket. Every fruit should be perfect.

Hiroki Koga, CEO of Oishii, said: “Even if it’s $50, there are thousands of people on the waiting list.”

Big Ishii strawberries on display in Beverly Hills, California in 2022.

No matter how much, the price of $50 strawberries is not a sustainable price. Nowadays, after rounds of financing and technical improvement, Dashi’s products are easier to obtain and much cheaper. You can buy big stone well berries at mainstream grocery stores for $10-14 per pack.

Del Monte takes action.

Delmont researchers have been studying different types of pineapples for many years, designing proprietary fruits, and often optimizing the taste. In 2020, the company launched its beautiful gift fruit – pink pineapple, which has pink pulp and comes with a special box. The company launched its own pretty, giftable fruit — the Pinkglow pineapple, which has pink flesh a Nd comes in its own special box.

The pink pineapple has a pink interior.

Melissa McKay, vice president of North American marketing at Del Monte, said that pink fluorescence should never be a staple on the shopping list. This is a gift from the hostess, a gift for Mother’s Day,” she said. On Instagram and TikTok, many food critics cut the fruit, marveled at its color, and shared their comments (the conclusion is: very sweet). TikTok at Del Monte. “It’s a hostess gift, it’s a Mother’s Day gift,” she said. It’s also perfect for Instagram and TikTok, where food influencers with large followings cut open th E fruit, marveled at its color and shared their reviews (the verdict: very sweet).

At first, the price of pink was about $50. Nowadays, you can buy a pineapple online at a lower price, between $8 and $29 – relatively cheap, but too expensive for a pineapple.

Melanie Zanoza Battleme, deputy director of Inmint Food and Beverage, said that if you can afford it, squandering on pink pineapples is “permissible because you invest in something good for you.” It’s like people going to Erewhon and spending nearly $20 on a celebrity-created milkshake,” she said. She refers to a high-end grocery store in Los Angeles, which is famous for selling expensive smoothie with celebrities (such as Hailey Bieber’s Strawberry Glaze Skin Smoothie, 2 A cup of 0 ounce costs $19). Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, associate director of Mintel Food & Drink. “It’s like people who go to Erewhon and spend almost $20 on a smoothie that a celebrity created,” sh E said, referring to the high-end Los Angeles grocery store known for collaborating with celebrities On pricey smoothies (like Hailey Bieber’s Strawberry Glaze Skin Smoothie, priced at $19 for a 20-ou Nce cup).

However, she pointed out, “There is a gap between $16 a pineapple and a $400 pineapple.”

Is it worth it?

Melissa’s Produce sells a variety of goods from truffles, mangosteens to papaya. The company described Rubyglow as “rare gems” and “the peak of luxury fruits” on its website, adding that “it is an unforgettable gift for gourmets.”

The success of this game is limited. Robert Schueller, head of public relations for Melissa’s agricultural products, said that Melissa only had 50 pineapples at the beginning. So far, the company has sold about half of the quantity in a month, including restaurants in Las Vegas and Southern California, which he said are using fruit as displays.

Ruby, Del Monte is called the “Red Legend” in its marketing.

Schueller said, “This is a market.” This is just a small market. This is not something that everyone can do.

In order to create more topics, Melissa contacted some influential gourmets, including chef Bo Corley, who shared recipes and other food anecdotes on his social channel.

Coley said that pineapples are “absolutely pleasant.” When you eat too many pineapples, there is almost a bitter aftertaste,” he explained. Your ruby doesn’t have this.

However, he said, it is not worth $400.

Coley can see that people spend money to get rubies, if not because of the taste of the pineapple itself, but the amazing factor, the brilliant appearance.

“I think this Christmas and Thanksgiving cooked food board – you will see this ruby color as a central decoration, especially in a wealthy family,” he said. In other words, people may not spend money for the taste of pineapple, but just to show off that they have it. To show off that they have it.

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