Banana Packaging: The Saga Continues

This is just an update. Not sure if there’s anything ethically interesting here at all.

Three weeks ago I blogged about bananas being packaged (in South Korea) in plastic wrappers. Extra packaging for a banana seemed odd. A week later I posted an update with an explanation from Starbucks: the plastic wrappers, they had told me, reflected Korean ‘cultural norms’ dictating that premium produce be individually wrapped.

OK, interesting answer.

But now, in a recent issue of MacLean’s magazine, there’s a story (by Kate Lunau) that gives a much more plausible explanation — and it’s about bananas being sold right here in Canada. According to Lunau’s story, retailers package banana’s for individual sale to help extend the very small window of time during which bananas are the pristine yellow colour that consumers demand, rather than either too green or too brown. Here’s the story: An inconvenient fruit.

Now I’m not sure what to think about the two different explanations. Maybe there really are 2 separate reasons, I guess. Or maybe there’s a failure of communications within Starbucks.

Some might say (re the Maclean’s story) that if it’s that much trouble to get pristine bananas to consumers, we shouldn’t bother. Some might say the same about the “cultural norms” explanation. But then, potato chips come in a plastic bag too. Either way, garbage is generated. Presumably the healthfulness of the banana makes the garbage generated worthwhile, socially. Yeah?


Thanks to Michael B for pointing me to the Maclean’s story.

2 comments so far

  1. Zameer Anwar on

    Banana cultivation goes as back as to about 8000 BC, it is not only South Korea but also other countries like Burma,Japan where it is still a traditional offering to Gods. But if we talk about banana as the staple starch for mass consumptions, then packaging is required so vacuum packaging would be the best for maintaining fresh state and naturalness of banana for a longer period of time and preserving the nutritional value as well.
    Vacuum Packaging

  2. Chris Milton on

    The most likely reason for bananas to be in bags is to ripen them using ethylene.

    In short, they’re picked green and then chilled. Just before being put onto shelves the bananas are put in ethylene filled bags to ripen them quickly, ready for the consumer.

    This is the best/most succinct reference I could find online: http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/bot00/bot00553.htm

    Best wishes

    Chris.


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