Pink Breads and Buns from Unsold Dragon Fruits Take This Country by Storm
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But what if life hands you dragon fruit – and lots of it – instead? It's a question that Vietnamese businesses have been pondering for weeks now, and they seem to have found the answer.
Pink foods have taken over this Southeast Asian nation since February with baguettes, noodles and rice papers taking on a bubblegum hue as eateries infuse local favorites with dragon fruit.
While millennials might be tickled pink with the new offerings, the trend reportedly serves a cause greater than racking up Instagram likes: keeping farmers afloat amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The new coronavirus put a dent in Vietnam's exports to China last month as the outbreak forced authorities to temporarily close border crossings between the two countries, disrupting overland trade of fruits and vegetables.
Local farmers of the magenta-colored fruit found themselves in a pickle. Their crop is highly perishable, and China is their main buyer, snapping up 80 percent of the volume earmarked for export. With China-bound deliveries delayed and local demand unable to keep up with excess supply, prices dipped by 87.5 percent in February, as reported by CGTN.
Many farmers reportedly opted to leave their crops to rot in the fields to limit their losses.
“The red dragon fruits were sold in the past 40.000 dong per kg from farmers, but now they had to sell at 6.000 dong per kg,” the equivalent of the price per kilogram dropping from $1.72 to just 26 cents, ABC Bakery marketing executive Angela Kao told Business Insider. “Yet nobody [was] willing to buy, and the fruits [were] all ripe.”
To support farmers, Kao Sieu Luc, founder of ABC Bakery in Ho Chi Minh City, added pink dragon fruit to his breads to enhance the flavour while also helping to buy the unsold fruit. The idea came to him during a recent trip to the Mekong Delta region, where he saw many ripe fruits left unharvested on dragon fruit farms.
“After a lot of trial and error, I found the perfect recipe for delicious loaves of dragon fruit bread by replacing 60% of the water used in making the dough with a dragon fruit smoothie,” Luc said to Nhan Dan.
The result was a loaf of bread with a pink crust dotted with specks of black seeds. Online reviews said the baguette tastes slightly sweet with a faint trace of fruitiness.
The new invention led to block-long queues amid reports people were queuing up for over an hour to get their hands on the breakout banh mi.
The bakery's initiative bore fruits. Between mid-February and early March, it went through over 30 tons of dragon fruits, according to Business Insider. The bakery even shared its recipe online so other bakeries can get in on the action and prevent produce from going to waste.
Other businesses around the country also incorporated the fruit into their products. A milling company developed pink noodles, while a manufacturer of rice-based products churned out purple rice paper and vermicelli made with watermelon.
In a sign of the trend's success, KFC is also reportedly jumping on the pink food bandwagon, debuting on March 20 a new burger featuring pink-tinted buns in selected stores for a limited time.