From square watermelons to Franken-pumpkins, the food industry is getting creative with produce. And its most recent innovation is a Buddha-shaped pear, created by Fruit Mould.
For around $8 a piece, you can take a bite into this crazy fruit. Why so pricey? Creating a Buddha pear is a process -- before the fruit begins to grow, a plastic Buddha mold must be placed over it. The harvesting process must be precisely timed too.
Researchers at the University of Illinois became curious of this odd-shaped produce phenomenon. "We were curious. How do growers find buyers for such unique food products?" asked agricultural communications professor Lulu Rodriguez. So they set to find out.
Rodriguez and her team of researchers asked undergrads if they would buy a Buddha-shaped pear for $8 -- and a surprising amount said yes. But not for eating. “The undergrads we talked to said at $8 a piece, they'd buy one Buddha pear, take a picture of themselves holding it and post it on Facebook. It was something to brag about," Rodriguez said.
The researches investigated further -- in a survey, they asked 336 participants to read a news article about novel pears then complete a questionnaire. The questionnaire asked them about their attitudes toward the pears, what they believe their family and friends would think, whether they would buy them and how much they would pay. They were also asked to provide demographic information such as gender, age, income, education and more.
It turns out, younger consumers with lower incomes were more likely to buy a Buddha pear compared to older consumers with disposable incomes. "I thought people with higher incomes and more to spare would be more likely to buy a box of the pears to impress a friend or business associate," Rodriquez said. "But we think younger people see them as something adventurous. Older people may just think the pears are foolish.”
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