When transporting fresh produce, one has to calculate the costs of manpower of packing, cutting or processing the fruit. This means that, on average, quite a few hands will handle the produce resulting in deterioration of their quality. The stand designed by BanaNatural aims to resolve not only the issue of costs, but also the quality of bananas while processing them.
What makes BanaNatural stand unique, is that it was designed not only for transferring bunches of bananas, but also for selling them in supermarkets. With whole bunches of bananas being displayed at supermarkets like they would on the trees, the stand surely makes bananas look more appealing to consumers as opposed to being in hands on shelves. According to BanaNatural’s Business Development Manager, Marilena Papadaki, the development of the stand started mostly to process bananas from plantation all the way to supermarket shelf without any damage but also to cut out some heavy costs.
“My father ’s family has had a long tradition in growing bananas starting from my grandparents. My father’s experience of trading bananas for over 30 years, made him appreciate the difficulties of trading bananas. This, in conjunction with his studies in Physics, helped him to come up with this innovative way of processing and transferring bananas. Before stands having been introduced to Greek market, the issue was around the price of the Greek Bananas. During this time, domestic bananas price was very low, making banana growing disadvantageous for banana farmers. Today, moving bananas with stands has helped in reducing the costs and thus increasing growers’ profits.”
But before the stands being adopted by the market, the company had to try them in retail shops. According to Papadaki, it started with one single supermarket: “Initially my father asked the owner of a local supermarket chain in Crete to sell a stand with bananas at one single store. The supermarket chain owner realized that selling bananas in this way helped them increase their profits due to the zero supermarket waste and therefore in a short period of time, all his supermarket stores started selling Greek bananas on stands”. Papadaki continues: “Normally customers would pick up bananas and squeeze them before deciding not to buy them and putting them back on the shelf which causes a bruised banana appearance. Thanks to our stand, this was no longer a problem, as the supermarket would simply cut off the bananas a customer would ask for, from the top, and work its way down. The most amazing part was that customers were willing to pay more for the bananas. They simply look a lot more natural and thanks to the stand bananas maintain their natural juices as they remain connected to the stem. This adds value to the produce.”
The BanaNatural team continuously tries to improve its product: “We started building the stands from wood, then plastic and later even aluminum. After trial and error, we’ve now come to stands built from galvanized steel, which is even stronger and it looks great. It also allows for a reasonable price, as one of our stands has manufacturing cost of 15 euros in Greece and lasts for 20 years.”
BanaNatural visited Fruit Logistica, where the feedback was very positive according to Papadaki: “A few weeks before the exhibition people started calling us for appointments. Even the big banana companies seemed very interested in our product and wanted to see us in person. People told us that they found our product the most innovative idea in the whole exhibition and asked me why I didn’t sign us up for the Innovation Award, but the truth is that I did. We just weren’t included in the nominees. Once I explained this to our visitors, many were surprised that we weren’t nominated for the Award. We were very flattered by all the responses though and are happy that people see great potential.”
Papadaki feels the BanaNatural stands offer a lot of benefits to the entire banana supply chain. “It adds value to the produce and we have great plans for 2019. We’re currently liaising with big banana producing countries with the aim of supplying them with our stands and we hope this year to set up a way to collaborate with some of them. The future seems exciting!”