In a dramedy science-fantasy children's videogame I want to create (by children's, I mean for 8 to 15 years old), Salade de Fruits (which means Fruit Salad) (my first language is French), there is a villainous antagonist who is a crime lady (feminine form of crime lord) who is at the head of a plum cartel.

A cartel does not mean a "drug one". That only means a group of independent market participants who collude with each other in order to improve their profits and dominate the market. Cartels are illegal virtually worldwide and are even bad, because this is a kind of fraud (a way of trolling consumers).

The countries in my prospective videogame are based on real life countries, but they do have different names (this is no different from Gotham from Leslie Herbert Martinson's masterpiece, Batman: the Movie, which is definitively supposed to be New York City).

Since plums apparently originated from China, the country where the plum cartel of my crime lady is China in all but in name.

The total production of the plum cartel is 6,000,000 metric tons (in real life, the total production of plums in China is 6,676,142 metric tons) (if we suggest that the country is China, that means over 85 % of the plum production is illegal).

Note: in my game, the characters (protagonists and antagonists) are from various species: anatomically modern humans, other humanoids (angels, demons, merfolk, etc.) (they are also humans, but not Homo sapiens sensu stricto), hybrids between humans and other humanoids, anthropomorphic animals (nonhuman apes, horses, parrots, iguanas, etc.), and anthropomorphic plants.

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    $\begingroup$ It would be funnier on several levels if the cartel were French cheesemakers. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 21:49
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    $\begingroup$ Just a note: plum trees were domesticated in the Stone Age. There was no China, there was no France. Of the most common kinds of plum trees, one (Prunus salicina, makes spherical non-waxy fruit, typically eaten raw) was probably domesticated in the Far East, the other (Prunus domestica, makes ovoid purple waxy fruit, eaten raw, or made into prunes or jam, or used to make brandy) was probably domesticated in (Eastern) Europe. (Only probably because neither species exists in the wild.) (The large-ish yellow plums sold in Europe are also P. domestica.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 21:58
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    $\begingroup$ Opec is a cartel and legal btw. $\endgroup$
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 9:01
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    $\begingroup$ There is a literal Maple Syrup Cartel in Quebec, Canada. 70% of global production is from there and production is strictly limited, by law. The Cartel is a private organization, but it has the full backing of the government of Quebec. Black Market maple syrup is a thing, and one of the largest thefts involved stealing a huge amount from the cartel's warehouse. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 12:52
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    $\begingroup$ @NeilMeyer: OPEC is legal because most if not all of its participants are sovereign states, and there is no international body with the practical ability to enforce antitrust law against sovereign states. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 16:46

9 Answers 9


Contemplate a Chiquita.

Chiquita, formerly known as the United Fruit Company, has a long and illustrious history epitomized in the phrase "banana republic". Study these terms and various incidents ancient and modern, involving issues such the overthrow of Guatemalan democracy and a designated terrorist organization, the AUC. I do not, of course, mean to suggest that the company did anything improper or unusual by the standards of contemporary capitalist ethics.


Have you read Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude?

Well, in a part of the book, the author represents what has known as the Banana massacre

The Banana Massacre (Spanish: Matanza de las bananeras or Spanish: Masacre de las bananeras) was a massacre of United Fruit Company workers that occurred between December 5 and 6, 1928 in the town of Ciénaga near Santa Marta, Colombia. A strike began on November 12, 1928, when the workers ceased to work until the company would reach an agreement with them to grant them dignified working conditions.

After several weeks with no agreement, in which the United Fruit Company refused to negotiate with the workers, the conservative government of Miguel Abadía Méndez sent the Colombian army in against the strikers, resulting in the massacre of 47 to 2,000 people.

After U.S. officials in Colombia and United Fruit representatives portrayed the workers' strike as "communist" with a "subversive tendency" in telegrams to Frank B. Kellogg, the United States Secretary of State the United States government threatened to invade with the U.S. Marine Corps if the Colombian government did not act to protect United Fruit’s interests. The Colombian government was also compelled to work for the interests of the company, considering they could cut off trade of Colombian bananas with significant markets such as the United States and Europe.

That's exactly how a fruit company can become a national problem.

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    $\begingroup$ That is quite a range of people that died there. $\endgroup$
    – Nzall
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 22:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Nzall indeed, but this was a situation where both sides probably had good political reasons to over or under-estimate the death toll. $\endgroup$
    – Andrendire
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 22:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Nzall - I would imagine the number was between zero and a few. $\endgroup$
    – Richard
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 23:36

The Same Way it Did in Real Life

The Sicilian mob started as a lemon cartel.

But lemon growers also faced challenges, among them, dealing with brokers who sold the fruit abroad and fending off thieves who raided groves by night. As a result, many growers began contracting “protectors” to watch their trees and enforce their contracts, Dimico writes. This gave both money and structure to a loosely affiliated band of brigands and businessmen, helping them consolidate into the Mafia as it's known today.

If you're going to prevent other people from stealing your plums, you're going to need protection. If you've already got protection, it might be worthwhile to extend that protection to others... for a price. If you want to drum up business for your protection services, it might be useful if anyone who isn't paying you for protection has their crop ruined.

It does not take a criminal mastermind to extend this... we'll call it a "protection racket" to other forms of business as well.

And once you've got protection money coming in, it behooves you to make sure that government officials who might object to your kind of business are made to see things your way. Or disappear.

Basically, as long as you have a high-value crop and a situation where unlawful measures are necessary to protect that crop, you've got rich, fertile soil not just for plums, but for organized crime.


They sabotage other foods.

Those foods are competition for plums. They must go. Grapes? Have our plum wine! Strawberries? Taste this plum jam. Cheese? Try fermented plum paste! No, it is a thing; fermented plum paste. It is better than cheese. Which is lucky for you because now there is no cheese, thanks to us. And we have only your interests at heart because plum based foods are healthier than those other old fashioned foods.



Make them a ruthless and ever-expanding megacorporation.

If you make your plum corporation into a massive and ruthless monopoly, then the problems will multiply exponentially.

You already mention that they produce more plums than the entirety of the country's production. This means they not only have the entirety of the home nation's plum supply under their control, but they also have the supplies of other plum companies under their thumb too. Anyone who wants to buy plums has to go through them first. Being a monopoly means they pretty much get to set the price too, so the cost of plums will probably skyrocket.

Since these people sound pretty cutthroat and there are even other species such as angels and demons in this world, then maybe this plum corporation has the help of some genuinely powerful beings and is thus capable of overthrowing anybody who gets in the way. The corporation spreads like a virus and soon they have the plum supply of the whole world in the palm of their hands.

Now that they have the whole supply, they need to find a way to keep their profits rolling and people buying at super high prices, so they use their newfound funds to run a massive ad campaign.

News corporations start pumping out pieces talking about the health benefits of plums, eventually dissolving into outright lies. It goes from "eating plums will make you healthy" to "eating plums will make you immortal!". This product is the cure for everything. It'll make you faster, smarter, and more attractive. There is nothing they cannot do, so buy more now!

Once they have the media conquered, the corporation still needs more money, so they resort to even more drastic measures. They start making tons of new plum-based products, starting with basic stuff like plum juice or maybe plum-flavored fruit snacks, and then they go to more ridiculous stuff like plum-flavored pizza or plum-flavored meatloaf. Soon every product known to man can now be made of or have the flavor of plums.

As their profits mount, the company does everything they can to put products everywhere. Every commercial will spout this corporation's praises. Every major actor will endorse them.

Product placement on every billboard, every wall, and every square centimeter of space.

There really is no end to how insane you could make this.

Every piece of clothing has the company logo on it. Classes such as history and math are now replaced with how to tend to plums. As soon as the kids leave school, they get sent to the factory to make money, and then told to spend all that money back on buying company products.

Politicians have all been bought out, so now even they are endorsers of the company. Forget policies and governing. We need to talk about how amazing the plum company is, and how we can ramp up plum production.

If you really want to go off the deep end, make it an outright cult. People worship the company now. Plums are sacred fruit. Every major world religion is replaced with the Church of the Plum. They could have a holy book and everything.

People no longer say "Good Morning". They say "Have a plum day!"

People paint themselves purple to embrace their fruity nature.

Names like Josh and Bob are gone now. The most common name is just Plum. The leader of the corporation is simply called the Great Plum. All shall worship the Great Plum or despair.

It's over the top and super ridiculous, but I feel like this is exactly the kind of thing I think a fun video game could need to make it memorable. Honestly, I could keep coming up with plum-related ideas all day.

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    $\begingroup$ This story is a textbook example of the phrase "What do you mean, it wasn't made on drugs?" $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 22:42

Fruit growing is your country's main industry.

There are many countries out there known as "banana republics" that primarily subsist on agriculture to sustain themselves because of the actions of colonizers who exploit their lands.

A single monopoly controlling all fruit production could underpay workers under a laissez faire capitalist system and control imports and exports of fruit from the nation.

This could lead to a situation of extreme wealth inequality similar to what we saw in Victorian era Britain or Gilded Age America.


"Monzanzo" is secretly working with the cartel to mass produce "perfect" plums at a larger scale, by using genetically engineered seeds. California plum tree orchards located in "Siliplum Valley" and their farmers are losing money fast. The choice of location is based on history of the Silicon Valley, previously known as the Santa Clara Valley, and known for is plum tree orchards.

"Round Up, Up, and Away" use its high on farms nationally because the GMO plum orchards are intolerant to most herbicides. Illness rates are high among farmers and people living in neighboring rural communities because of the use of "Round Up, Up, and Away".

One indirect effect of the mass production of GMO plums is that that most GMO plums can't be turned into prunes, like organically grown varieties of plums. People are suffering from constipation from a shortage of prune production. Another indirect effect can be that England has stopped plum jerkum export to other countries, instigating the halt of other fruit alcohol beverage export globally.

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    $\begingroup$ When they have enough power to lobby Congress to get patents on life itself then you have a problem. $\endgroup$
    – Mazura
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 22:48

There are many ways. For one, they could increase prices, use violence, establish a monopoly, overrun the government, expand into other countries etc. This is very easy, especially for Chinese mafia.

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    $\begingroup$ So, why did it not happen naturally already? Why even United Fruit Company needed the support of a nation with army behind. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 22:16
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    $\begingroup$ Because the United Fruit Company didn't have a functional army. But a cartel.. A cartel has not only the members on its side, but also corrupt politicians and other people they can blackmail or threaten. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ Let me repeat the still unanswered question: so, why did it not happen naturally already? I mean, the "Chinese mafia" existed from 18 century and you say "This is very easy, especially for Chinese mafia.". If this is so easy, how come we don't have "Chinese mafia overlords"? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 11:38
  • $\begingroup$ When saying Chinese mafia, I mean modern Chinese mafia. Chinese mafia rebellions would have very probably been crushed by the Qing dynasty. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 15:10

Overdependence and supply chain issues

Suppose most parts of the economy have gotten used to a steady supply and dependence on the plum, from manufacturing to agriculture:

  • Suppose there's a biofuel that all cars use that depends on ingredients from plums, and that this world has no gasoline alternative because they ran out of gas from the ground.
  • Medicines may contain plum extracts instead of containing egg extract. They use it to make their vaccines shelf-stable.
  • Most lumber might all come from the plum trees.
  • paper comes from the lumber of plum trees.
  • Cars might have a specific part that comes from a chemical that you get from a plum that's mixed into some adhesive coating; there's nowhere else to get this chemical other than the plum.

And then suppose the cartel wants to either raise the price, limit the supply (like OPEC), or has a supply chain shortage. Suddenly medicine would be interrupted, cars would not be able to be manufactured, and industry would grind to a halt.

The reason this would be a national problem, is that for most businesses, it's not cheap to run dual-supply-chains and have a backup, because any business that runs redundant supply chains loses a market advantage because of the cost of the second supply chain, they would have to deal with two different countries instead of one, they would have to have two shipping ports instead of one. If a business only has to deal with one and only one supplier, business becomes a lot simpler and easier, and so becoming overdependent on one supplier isn't an unheard of problem, and is a real-world problem today.


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