The days of picking up Oranges, Banana's, apples and other soft fruit from your bowl only to discover that they are rotten and mouldy underneath will soon be gone.
Scientists at the Laboratory of Food Technology and Engineering in Ghent, Brussels say that continual handling of fruit by customers in Supermarkets causes bruising that often can not be seen. People then buy the products only to discover within the next few days their fruit is furry, brown and rotten. It is the fast turnover of fruit from the Supermarket shelves that masks this.
Dr Phil Maplooms who is senior fruitologist at the institute said that it has been known for some time that handling of fruit by customers checking the quality does a lot of damage. He said with high value products such as Strawberries they are often sold in sealed plastic punnets to stop this from happening. He and his team have taken this a stage further by developing fruit to grow a hard case like a nut to protect it.
His team have introduced the K4pt gene for creating shell from a Hickory Shagbark nut. The Shagbarks leathery feel, whilst strong and hard enough to offer good protection from collision and squeezing is layered and easy to peel away from the fruit by hand.
The shell reduces damage from birds and insects whilst the fruit is growing and also damage from the picking and sorting process. Fruit Farmer Andel De' Portion told me that yield was up by 18% as a result of less damage from growing, picking and packing.
Spoof reporter tried some of the fruit and has to say it's taste and texture is exactly as you would expect. The only drawbacks are that it is impossible to tell the difference between certain fruits so very careful labelling is required. Fruits such as apples no longer have a skin which Mothers of young children will possibly appreciate.
French Supermarket giant Carrefore have already started selling the fruit and are pleased with the initial uptake. UK Supermarket chain Tesco released a statement saying that trials of the new fruit will commence in selected stores from early March. Sainsury's are already offering a small amount in their select range.
A spokesman from Morrisons told me over the phone. "A fookin fruit in a shell. Are you windin' me oop yer fooker. Never 'eard o owt so daft" ! Then he slammed the phone down.