The Real Reason Why Oranges Are Sold in Red Mesh Bags

Have you noticed that oranges are always sold in red mesh bags—never yellow, blue or green? Here's why!

There’s nothing like a fresh-squeezed orange. (Seriously—here are 68 delicious reasons to buy this citrus fruit!) But have you ever noticed that oranges are almost always sold in red mesh bags? You’ve probably never given it a second thought.

Why the Red Mesh Bag?

Turns out it’s a sneaky tactic used by grocery stores—red mesh bags actually make oranges look more orange.

For real! The red color against an orange’s peel creates an illusion that makes them appear more orange, encouraging buyers to make a purchase. The trick also works like a charm for other orange-hued citrus fruits, like tangerines and some grapefruit. The citrus growers and grocery stores even do something similar for lemons, which are typically sold in yellow or green bags to make them appear more yellow. (If the lemons were in a red mesh bag, they would actually appear orange!)

So, to pick the ripest oranges on the shelf, you’ll have to look beyond the mesh bag. Here’s what to do.

Bonus: once the mesh bags are empty, you can use them to make a scrubbie.

More Sneaky Grocery Store Tactics

Supermarkets have strategies to encourage us to buy more goods, or to make things appear more attractive. The red mesh bags are only one example! Did you know oranges and other fruits are dyed to appear more vibrant?

There are so many ways grocery stores encourage us to fill our carts—like having the delicious-smelling bakery at the front of the store and keeping the milk allll the way at the back. So be sure to bring your grocery list and coupons to stay on track!

And next time you’re in the produce department, grab a red mesh bag from the oranges and try popping a couple lemons inside. It really will make them look orange. (Tricky, right?) Now you know, and we can bet you’ll never look at oranges the same way again.

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Kristin George
Kristin George is a lifestyle + parenting writer and content creator living in Milwaukee, WI, with her husband and three boys. She is the founder of Dotted Comma, a marketing consulting agency driven to "cause a pause." In addition to her family and writing, she loves coffee, yoga, traveling, and making lists. You can connect with Kristin at