Bananas, are well-liked around the world and they are produced in more than 100 countries. Although they’re already naturally packaged and a convenient snack, the yellow fruit is becoming a popular ingredient in processed and packaged foods. Despite threats of being overshadowed by the new, so-called superfoods, bananas remain a household staple, with an average of 27 pounds consumed per person annually in the US. They also add flavor, texture and nutritional value to snack and health foods.
Whether vegan, vegetarian or "flexitarian", plant-based foods are on the rise. In 2017, sales reached $3.1 billion, a rise of 8.1% from the previous year. And while bananas might not be a meat alternative (yet), there’s increasing interest in them as a dairy alternative in frozen desserts.
Bananas are a big opportunity
Considering that bananas are one of the world's leading fruit crops -number five regarding economical value- their use as an ingredient is minimal. And when it is, it usually makes up less than 30% of a product. Rarely celebrated for its nutritional value, the banana is actually a great source of vitamins, fiber and antioxidants, meaning that it is a great addition or base for health foods.
"Along with a few key ingredients and a little science, the bananas in Yellofruit help make our frozen dessert just as creamy as ice cream," says Kinnear. "Bananas are the perfect alternative to dairy milk and aren’t chalky or dry when frozen, like some nut or coconut milks."
Using bananas in packaged foods is also an opportunity to reduce food waste. Up to 40% of bananas don’t make it beyond the farm because they aren’t the right size or color. For instance, more than 100,000 tons of bananas are wasted every year in Queensland, Australia, alone. So-called ugly or imperfect bananas don’t make the cut for export to grocery stores, but that doesn’t matter for banana-based food products.