Banana producers often use plastic bags to cover the banana bunches on the plants for protection. The plastic material of these bags, however, doesn’t fit in well with sustainability initiatives. That is why the company Smurfit Kappa decided to design a sustainable banana bag made of paper, called BanaBag®. “BanaBag® is made out of Machine Glazed paper, a solution unique to Smurfit Kappa,” says Juan Guillermo Castañeda, CEO for Smurfit Kappa the Americas. “The Machine Glazed paper is considered the finest paper in the market and is 100% renewable, recyclable, compostable and biodegradable.”
In addition to its sustainable qualities, BanaBag® protects bananas against rain, wind, friction between the fruit, and prevents overheating. “It has also been proven to improve the quality of the fruit,” Castañeda adds.
Demand expanding rapidly
BanaBag® was first launched in early 2019 for the banana market in the Spanish Canary Islands. The bag has recently also become available in Latin America. Castañeda shares: “Colombia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica are part of the list of the 10 producing countries that export more than 80% of the bananas in the international market. These producers need to be able to offer sustainable supply chains for distributors and consumers across the globe, so BanaBag® was successfully launched in the Latin American region in the second half of 2020.”
BanaBag® is a solution that can be implemented at banana plantations anywhere in the world, and the company has seen good interest not only from Latin America and Europe but also from Asia, Australia and New Zealand. “We currently see demand from many international markets,” says Castañeda. “Consumers are preferring and demanding brands that are committed to sustainability who have proven to contribute to eliminating waste. The demand for plastic-free has put pressure on all markets, not only in agriculture, and Smurfit Kappa has been ahead of this trend for years with our Better Planet Packaging initiative which seeks to contribute to helping our customers eliminate waste and reduce unnecessary packaging,” he adds.
Marketed to both conventional and organic growers
BanaBag® works the same as other banana bags, with the main difference being how it impacts both the environment and the quality of the fruit. It can be used by both conventional and organic growers and is suitable for any grower who wishes to increase the sustainability on their farm. “Our BanaBag® solution can be implemented by all banana producers who wish to highlight the organic characteristics of their banana plantations and improve the quality of their product. The sustainable properties of this paper-based solution have proven fundamental in the decision process – it gives a whole new opportunity to all producers because it makes their bananas eco-friendly, which is very important for their positioning in international markets,” Castañeda shares.
In addition to ensuring a more sustainable product and supply chain, BanaBag® also helps to eliminate waste, which reduces costs on farms. “The need that producers have to ensure sustainability in their supply chain, as well as reducing non-sustainable waste in their production process and making the recycling process more efficient, has caused a spike in interest for BanaBag® in the Latin American market. The banana producers’ response to the launch in the region has been significant and we expect it to increase in the following months as packaging sustainability continues to be a priority for consumers who are becoming more and more environmentally conscious by the day,” Castañeda concludes.