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Why oranges and tangerines are sold in a red mesh bag?

The optical effect of this color on the fruits makes them more appealing to the human eye. It’s known as the Munker illusion.

Tangerines bag

Fruit, like vegetables, are an extremely important part of a healthy diet. Everyone has heard the classic advice to eat “five pieces of fruit or vegetables a day”. And within the fruits category, we find two that, when bought in a specific quantity (usually one or two kilos) from the supermarket, come wrapped in a red mesh bag. These are oranges and tangerines.

Oranges are one of the staple fruits for the winter season. A citrus food with great benefits for the immune system and rich in fiber and vitamin C. Additionally, it’s actually surprisingly versatile in the kitchen and can be used in a number of recipes. It is precisely during this time of the year when they are at their peak ripeness, with the option of a number of different varieties.

Why use a red mesh bag for citrus fruits?

It is common to find both oranges and other citrus fruits, such as tangerines, sold in a red mesh bag. However, it’s not just a simple packaging choice, but rather a marketing strategy, as explained by Martin Escolar in a video shared on social media. In just a few days, it has gone fairly viral, with over 50,000 likes.

As with many, or even most, things we can buy, the purpose of some “accessories” is to attract the customer’s attention. In this case, the red mesh bag makes these fruits appear brighter. “They play with our mind,” explains Escolar, who explains that the red lines over the orange colour plays a mental trick, making the fruits look brighter and juicier.

This phenomenon is known as the Munker or Munker-White optical illusion. Through the superposition of colors, one stands out more than the other. In the case at hand, the colors in front enhance the tones of the citrus fruits that come inside these red mesh bags. In the example in the tweet above, the diagram shows twelve balls of different colors. Or so it seems, until the coloured lines are eliminated and it turns out the balls are actually all the same colour.


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