Be fruitful ...

There are two developments in Dole's part of the normally sleepy canned-fruit aisle:

All of Dole's little plastic bowls of fruit -- diced peaches, pears, mixed fruits and so on -- are now packed in "100% juice." Until now they were packed in a mixture of water, sugar, natural flavor and so on (a blend that the industry likes to call "light syrup").

Nice to see diced peaches are now in peach juice, right? Wrong. The "100% juice" in which all the fruits are packed is a mixture of white grape juice from concentrate and lemon juice from concentrate plus natural flavor and so on. At one store, a four-pack of four-ounce tubs costs an unchanged $2.69 -- 67 cents each; 17 cents an ounce.

And, taking a packaging lesson from the yogurt folks, Dole has introduced Fruit Crisps -- diced fruit packed with a separate little container of "crunchy oat topping" (mostly rolled oats and brown sugar). There are three varieties -- peach, apple-cinnamon and apple-pear.

The "100% juice" revolution didn't include this new product: The fruit is packed in a thickened version of light syrup: water, sugar, modified food starch, natural flavors, etc. A two-pack of Fruit Crisps at the same store costs $2.19 -- $1.10 each.

The two four-ounce servings each consist of (as Mr. Tidbit measured them) 3.3 ounces of fruit and juice, and 0.7 ounces of topping. Even at retail, oats cost less than 10 cents an ounce and brown sugar less than that, but say the topping packets cost 10 cents each. That means the tubs of fruit cost $1 each. They contain only 3.3 ounces of fruit, so the fruit is 30 cents an ounce -- almost double the cost of Dole's regular tubs of diced fruit.



If you liked Ritz Crackerfuls (or even if you didn't), you might like Nabisco's new Honey Maid Grahamfuls -- long whole-grain graham-cracker sandwiches filled with either a stripe of peanut butter or narrower stripes of both peanut butter and chocolate. At one store, the 7.04-ounce box of eight individually wrapped Grahamfuls was $4.09 (51 cents each).