Is there a market for bizarre-shaped fruit and vegetables in the UK? The Chinese and Americans love the idea, but would European and British growers be interested in square watermelons or star-shaped cucumbers? Steven Ding, the man behind China-based Fruit Mould Company, thinks so and is even planning tailor-made moulds for the British market.
Crazy contraptions that mould and shape fruit and vegetables as they grow are being sold to farmers by this wacky online Chinese company.
Farmers place the mould over the stem of growing produce which is filled as the fruit or vegetable develops - and the result is an odd shaped niche product that can be sold for a premium price, according to Ding.
Unsurprisingly, the moulds are a big hit in Ding’s native China, but he tells PBUK of plans to roll out more of his extraordinary fruit and vegetable grow moulds especially for British growers.
“I do have many customers from the UK and I am planning something a little more special for the UK market, because every year I design two or three different moulds,” he says.
“Last year's customised mould came around during the time of the US election and so Donald Trump was obvious. I had one particular pumpkin grower who wanted Trump moulds.
“But for England, I may well think about doing something fun with the Queen or other well known people, because I think that would work very well and create a lot of interest.”
Ding explains the concept came about a few years ago but it’s only recently that the company is getting more attention from global growers experimenting with the idea of producing weird and wonderfully shaped produce.
“It’s all about the add-on value that a strange shape fruit or vegetable can give,” he adds.
“Heart-shaped watermelons and apples are my biggest seller right now. I’m being commissioned to make moulds for growers from all over the world, including England.
“Most of the really crazy ideas come from my customers; they ask me “can you design a heart watermelon or a skull or something else crazy. I design and sell the moulds to the farmer and the fruit or vegetable grows in that particular shape.”
Ding adds that his key markets are China and the US, but, with the right kind of customisation, he is confident more European growers will come on board.
“There is a lot more interest in China because the culture here is suited to design ideas like this one,” he says.
“I am planning to design some moulds according to different cultures and different countries - the possibilities are huge.”