The avid use of packaging to prolong freshness and morphology 

Valentine’s Day is approaching and soon the markets and card shops will be filled with silly novelties. One particular novelty made the news here in HK for the wrong reason. 

Valentine’s Day Strawberry


CitySuper, one of the high end supermarkets has stocked up on a special Kotoka Strawberry from Japan. The problem, highlighted on social media, was it’s over-the-top packaging. Nestled in a styrofoam netting and encased in a custom box with a clear cover, the strawberry was designed with Valentine’s Day in mind. The packaging looks like it could fit 4 equal sized strawberries easily. 


What perverse pleasure there is in the consumption of one strawberry boggles the mind… unless it is infused with aphrodisiac properties that when your loved one bites into it, they…. (I’ll leave this part up to your imagination). 

Japanese strawberries on sale at Taste


Pretty much all the high end fruits from Taiwan and Japan are packaged this way for sale at the supermarket.

Green groups in Hong Kong are up in arms over the wasteful packaging and are pressuring the supermarkets to reduce fruit packaging. This is all very well, except that the people running these green organisations are gweilos (no offence meant) who haven’t observed locals and chinese people in general buying fruit. 

In my observations, many of the auntie and granny looking types like to hover by the fresh fruit crates, this is for two reasons. 

1) they are using all the processing power they have to compute the price per fruit and which is more expensive and why. Then…

2) they wait to see who else is buying what. If they see several picking fruit from a particular crate, the rate of attraction suddenly increases and there’s a waterhole effect where all the grannies need to get their hands on one before it runs out. 

In the meantime, the fruit in this crate (let’s say apples in this case), get picked and pressed and generally molested all around. If for any reason it is dissatisfactory, it gets tossed back into the crate and another is subjected to the same fate until the granny finds the best one. Ok, I confess that I am like a granny in my selection, and that is because the apples I purchase are the most expensive and I’d like to ensure that they are edible after everyone else has had a go. So what does the supermarket do with all this spoiled rejected apples? I suppose it’s off to the processing plant and that’s where the juices on the shelf come from. 

Anyway. In the case of the durian, the fruit can be shipped in its husk if fresh. That’s probably the greenest packaged pricey fruit there is. However, many are being sold frozen now, cling film is used to conserve shape and hygiene on a piece by piece basis. That’s still at least a meter or two of cling film per durian.

If only someone could recycle durian husks into a biodegradable packaging for durian and other fruits… that would be very green indeed. 

Alternatively, get all the fussy ones to head off to the wet market where the fruit man watches his fruit like a hawk and everything gets dropped together in a bag on the assumption that you’ll handle them with care.

This is how the Kotoka Strawberry is packaged in Japan. Where do all their packaging waste go? Or is it only for export?

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