There’s a long history of shaming corporations for how they package fruit. That might seem like a silly statement, but it’s true. Photos of displays of peeled oranges in plastic containers go viral because 1) We can’t believe people are so lazy that peeling an orange is such a struggle and 2) It’s a tremendous waste of material, introducing more plastic into the world that’s already overflowing with it.
The latest example is the braspberry. Not sure what that is? It’s a package full of raspberries stuffed with a blueberry. The concoction is currently being tested by fruit supplier Driscoll’s for eventual rollout.
Let’s quickly cover and then put to the side a few points that play into this conversation but which I don’t want to go into here:
- You have to wonder what the people whose job it is to carefully place a blueberry inside a raspberry are being paid and what standards they’re being held to. The error rate – instances where the raspberry breaks and is wasted – has to be high.
- In practice this doesn’t seem all that different from pimento-stuffed olives, which have been around forever and which don’t seem to be causing such societal hand-wringing.
- More broadly, the idea of altering a whole foods’ natural state isn’t that uncommon. Shelled peanuts or sunflower seeds, anyone?
All of that being stipulated, look again at the picture. Putting aside concerns over labor practices and how consumer desire for convenience is leading to some questionable food decisions, it’s a pretty picture, especially if you were to remove the lid and get rid of the Driscoll’s label that obscures a quarter of the food. In fact, it’s a picture that looks good enough to post on Instagram with a #brasberry hashtag, don’t you think?
And that’s the point. This is an eminently-Instagramable package of food. It’s bright and colorful with a bit of contrast. The product is neatly arranged in nice lines to appear relatively symmetrical. Add a filter to really make it pop and you’re all set to add that photo to your stream of #foodie posts showing just how selective your tastes are. Not only do you have a highly-cultivated palate but a great eye for a catchy image as well.
It’s the latest example of retail brands altering existing products or creating new ones that are meant to be more photo-worthy. Functional isn’t enough, it has to look good, too.
There’s plenty to take issue with here, but remember that retailers and other consumer brands are fighting for their lives as people make starkly different choices than the previous generation did, choices that are largely enabled and expanded by technology. If a brasberry will help a store survive the next quarter then it’s worth embracing.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.