When Billa Supermarkets in Austria decided to unpeel bananas and shrink wrap them there was enough consumer outrage against the German owned Billa supermarket to withdraw the unsustainable food packaging innovation. It also turns out the Billa Supermarkets call themselves environmentally conscious and the unpeeled bananas became a matter for Facebook protest right on the owners' Facebook page.
Naturally packaged products are packaged for convenience in the developed markets (think of coconut water in paper cartons or bananas in this case) and are not packaged due to affordability reasons in developing markets. Consider the following:
- Fruits and vegetables in developed country markets enjoy the cold chain after harvest right through distribution. There are some rare reports in the US of careless food truck drivers who do not maintain the right temperature but by and large maintaining the right temperature across the cold chain is a priority in the industry. And majority of consumers are able to afford fresh produce while the poorer bottom of the pyramid families have grocery store access problems according to the USDA map of access and proximity to a grocery store. This access problem leads to unhealthy fast food choices and obesity.
- Fruits and vegetables in developing countries seem to suffer from entirely different challenges. Distributers and retailers are unwilling to pay for refrigerated trucks and would rather have slightly deteriorated produce sell at a lower price that hope to charge a consumer who has problems in affording the refrigeration cost. Unpeeling and shrink packaging bananas would be unthinkable in the India market, for example. In fact, if you observe the fruit and vegetable market visuals from most of Asia and Africa they resemble farmer's markets in the US and Canada. By not processing or packaging fruits and vegetables, these markets provide better nutrition and are actually more environmentally friendly compared to the shrink wrapped peeled bananas tried out in Austria. Contact StratoServe.