Are we really that pushed for time that we can't chop our own veggies? Michelle Robinson reports.
Fruit - the original easy-to-eat food - has become the latest pre- peeled, ready-sliced convenience food, as stores sell it in bright little packages for "time-hungry" consumers.
It's not just tricky produce like pineapples or pomegranates either. Some Fruit World franchises are now making our days easier by selling pre-peeled mandarins - that's the fruit marketed as "easy-peel".
One Auckland Fruit World co- owner, Minh Bui, who peels about eight trays of mandarins a day, said her customers prefer buying fruit ready for the lunchbox. And paying more is not putting punters off.
The mandarin trays sell well in the mornings at her Mt Wellington store, and 500g of the pre-peeled, segmented fruit is around the price of a kilogram of the whole fruit.
Bui picks fruit with "ugly skin" which won't otherwise sell, despite there being nothing wrong with the fruit.
Chopped and peeled pumpkin and fresh mixed stirfry vegetables are also selling well.
"If there's only one or two people in a family, you're not going to buy each vegetable whole."
Fruits which require some effort to get into, such as pineapple and melon, also sell better when cut, wrapped and served on trays.
Less popular offerings such as persimmon and parsnip also do better as smaller portions.
"Some customers living alone just want one parsnip."
Our demand for smaller convenience foods have already seen the growth in heat-and-eat soups and pasta packets, three-minute vacuum-packed beef and lamb steaks, and ready-to-go stocks in our supermarkets.
Foodstuffs, which owns New World and Pak'n Save, is noticing a demand for packed salads and chopped stir-fry vegetables.
"We believe these increases are driven by consumers' need for quick and convenient products, smaller family shops and time-poor shoppers looking for fast cooking options," spokeswoman Katherine Klouwens said.
Pre-sliced apple is another trend after first appearing as a healthy alternative to chips in McDonald's Happy Meals.
"There definitely has been a growth in these products as five to 10 years ago there wasn't the extensive range available to consumers that there is today," Countdown's Jess Miller said.
"Pre-packed fruit and veges are now available in convenience stores, fruit and vege shops and even fast food outlets as well as supermarkets, so it's a trend across the board."
- Sunday Star Times
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