As far as natural packaging goes, you can do much worse than a banana peel. A banana peel is tough enough to protect a pretty bruisable fruit, but it’s simple to get into. It changes colors to let you know when it’s ready to eat. It’s biodegradable. It’s an essential prop for vaudeville routines. If you’re a chimp, you can eat it. If you’re a suburban teenager, you can dry it and smoke it and imagine it’s getting you high.
Or if you work for Del Monte, you can look at a banana and say “This needs a layer of plastic around it.” That’s right, Del Monte is going to start selling individually wrapped bananas. It’s actually something they’ve been tinkering with for years. Starting in 2009, they started test marketing individually wrapped bananas at 7-11 stores in the Dallas area and has spread to other markets since then. The company recently announced that it is going to start selling the bananas in the UK as well.
Why an individually wrapped banana? According to the company, the bags keep the bananas yellow longer, a benefit since no one wants a brown banana. However, I’ve worked in the produce department of a grocery store, so I’m a man who knows what he’s talking about and I can tell you demand for bananas is pretty steady. If you have lots of bananas rotting on your shelves, order fewer. The bodegas in my neighborhood manage to figure out how many they’ll sell, I think 7-11 can, too.
I suspect that money also plays a role, as an individually wrapped banana goes for a buck. The bodega across the street sells a single banana for a quarter and they’re not known for their low prices. I’m guessing a single banana sold by weight goes for something like 15 cents at a grocery store, so a 650% mark-up is pretty good. The convenience store industry has suffered as people have started smoking less, so new sources of revenue are important, and now that Four Loko is illegal, it’s down to Five-Hour Energy and bananas.
I guess if it’s a choice between smoking and wasteful banana packaging, the latter is preferable. But I think our forbears would think us pretty silly and wasteful if they saw us a buying individually-wrapped bananas and they’d be right. Toughen up, people. Buy your bananas loose.