Reducing global food waste seems to be on everyone’s mind these days, and two young health food brands — Barnana and Wonky Juice — are looking to address the issue at the source, giving misshapen fruits and vegetables new life and boosting local economies.
Fact: Bananas are the number-one wasted food product in the world, with fifty percent of all bananas grown going to waste. Caue Suplicy, founder of organic banana snack brand Barnana, is hoping to change that.
Much like other types of produce, bananas need to keep up with appearances in order to make their way onto grocery store shelves. ‘Ugly’ fruit — bananas with scuffs, bruises, over-ripening or other imperfections — is a hard sell and is often rejected for export, meaning organic banana farmers across the world are often unable to sell 15 to 20 percent of their crop.
According to the World Resources Institute, about 56 percent of all food wasted in Latin America happens before ever reaching distribution. This is certainly the case with bananas, as the aforementioned practices leave a significant amount of crop behind to simply rot.
The continued consumer paradigm shift to plant-based diets
Hear the latest on shifting consumer preferences toward more plant-based, planet-friendly foods from Daniel Vennard, Director of the World Resource Institute's Better Buying Lab — at SB'20 Long Beach.
Suplicy identified an opportunity to use these ‘ugly’ bananas, which would otherwise go to waste, in the manufacturing of his product, helping reduce food waste and providing farmers with a secondary source of income. The company has already used 11.7 million ugly bananas this year alone to make Barnana.
Meanwhile, yet another company is stepping up to the plate to combat the UK’s food waste problem. Started by a group of students in Cardiff, Wales, Wonky Drinks produces juices made from ‘wonky’ fruits and vegetables — misshapen fruits and vegetables that farmers have a hard time selling.
Despite their produce being perfectly fit for consumption, farmers’ bottom lines often suffer because the aesthetic of their products means retailers pass them over. Wonky Drinks sees these leftover fruits and veg as prime candidates for juicing, and offers to pay farmers 70 percent of the market price for their unsold fruit.
The young company has already received orders from universities across the UK, along with WeWork, caterers Caterwings and BaxterStorey, and a number of independent shops across the UK. It recently received a grant from the Welsh Government to introduce compostable smoothie cups made from potato starch, and in September won a competition held at the University of South Wales.
Now through December 22, Wonky Drinks is crowdfunding to raise enough funds to purchase 300 tons of wonky produce by April 2017.