WTF Is With the Pink Pineapples on the Grocery Store?! | EUROtoday

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On a current journey to Giant Eagle, my native grocery retailer in Pittsburgh, I seen 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 big Fresh Del Monte. It price $9.99, somewhat greater than double the worth of an everyday yellow pineapple.

I put the field in my cart, snapped an image with my telephone, and shared the discover with my foodie associates. I discussed that its colour is the results of genetic modification—the field included a “made possible through bioengineering” label—however that didn’t appear to faze anybody. When I introduced my Pinkglow to a Super Bowl celebration, individuals oohed and aahed over the colour after which wolfed it down. It was juicier and fewer tart than an everyday pineapple, and there was one other distinction: It got here with the attribute crown chopped off. Soon sufficient, my associates had been shopping for pink pineapples too. One used a Pinkglow to brew do-it-yourself 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. Still, I puzzled: Why now with the flashy presentation? And why pink? And why had my associates and I snapped it proper up?

When I introduced my inquiries to Hans Sauter, Fresh Del Monte’s chief sustainability officer and senior vice chairman of R&D and agricultural providers, he started by providing me a quick historical past of the fruit. You could assume, like I did, that pineapples have at all times been candy and sunny-colored—however that wasn’t the case previous to the Nineties. Store-bought pineapples of yesteryear had a inexperienced shell with gentle yellow flesh that was typically extra tart than candy. Buying a recent one was a little bit of a raffle. “Nobody could tell, really, whether the fruit was ripe or not, and consumption of pineapples was mostly canned product, because people could trust what they would 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 Extra Sweet, yellower and fewer acidic than something in the marketplace on the time. Pineapple gross sales soared, and shoppers’ expectations of the fruit had been without end 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 method. The two corporations ended up settling out of court docket.

With the success of its Gold pineapple, Del Monte was in search of new attributes that might make the pineapple much more attractive to shoppers, Sauter says. But breeding pineapples is a sluggish course of; it might probably take two years or longer for a single plant to provide 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 of ready 30 extra years for a brand new selection was “out of the question.” 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 known as lycopene, which is excessive in antioxidants, into the yellow pigment beta-carotene. (Lycopene is what provides tomatoes and watermelon their colour.) Preventing this course of, then, might yield pink flesh and better antioxidants. The firm set its devoted pineapple analysis group to the duty of determining the right way to do it.

The group landed on a set of three modifications to the pineapple genome. They inserted DNA from a tangerine to get it to precise 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 similar method used to make non-browning GMO Arctic apples.) Finally, Del Monte added a gene from tobacco that confers resistance to sure herbicides, although representatives for the corporate say this was in order that its scientists might verify that the opposite genetic adjustments had taken impact—not as a result of Del Monte plans to make use of these herbicides in manufacturing.