Currently the worlds most traded fruit and fourth most traded agricultural product, bananas
have plenty of benefits ranging from a healthy and low-cost fruit to a viable alternative to paper
production. Known as a bright yellow, elongated, and sweet fruit, banana production has sky rocketed
since the introduction of the Cavendish variety. With worldwide production being greater than 150
million tonnes per year, alternatives have risen to provide new value-added products within the banana
industry. It’s uses vary from comestible products to more practical instruments.
Currently bananas are grown with commercial products in every single continent, which in turn
has brought high levels of competition in prices, bringing these at record low levels. Despite low prices
making it an extremely cheap fruit for final consumers, these prices also affect small farmers negatively
as they can’t compete with the scale of economy of the massive banana corporations worldwide.
Therefore, farmers and entrepreneurs brought a whole new meaning to banana products and as a result
many new businesses have risen and thousands of families all around the globe have a new avenue of
income to rely upon. Where farmers can’t compete, new methods must be found, and by-product or
value-added products are a perfect solution.
Another reason for the rise of banana by-products is the nature of bananas themselves. High
moisture content and a climacteric nature make bananas a highly perishable fruit. As a result of this
characteristic, bananas must be harvested and shipped with special care, such as using temperaturecontrolled containers, but despite technology and care losses are still in the thousands of tonnes to spoiled bananas. To avoid losses due to lack of demand, weather, or others, banana farmers opt to find
solutions to utilize those bananas and recoup the cost of their production.
Beginning with the comestible by-products, bananas can be made into a varying type of snacks.
One of the most common of banana products are Banana Chips. Usually chips are made from plantain, a
harder and more starch-filled banana, making it perfect for deep frying. Cut between 0.5 and 1.5 mm
thick, these chips are either shaped in circles or elongated in the shape of the banana. Usually served
with salt, these can be packaged in bags and have a shelf life of up to a month. Another variety of simple
and easy to consume snacks made from bananas are banana figs, which consist of dried or dehydrated
bananas. These have a very sweet flavor, and are sticky to the touch, in contrast to the plantain chips
which are salty. These last ones can last up to four months due to the high sugar contents and capacity
to hold its characteristics.
A different healthy snack, very popular for infants and for special health needs, is banana puree.
Made from near mature bananas, and treated with high temperature water or steam, to conclude the
process with special treatment for preservation.
Another use for bananas can be found as a cooking ingredient in the form of banana flour. For
this product, bananas must be green with high starch contents, which is usually found in the plantain
variety of bananas. The fruit must be harvested before ripening, and treated with potassium, later these
are dehydrated, with the final step being grinding the dried banana until it reaches the state of flour.
Banana flour can be used to make bread, cakes, drinks, and many other kinds of foods. This substitute to
normal cooking flour has many added benefits which make it a viable option to consider when cooking.
These benefits come in the form of a healthier option, as bananas contain a higher number of vitamins,
protein, and nutrients. This product can last up to a year under well-kept and dry conditions.
Banana powder, a similar product to banana flour, is made with a drum dryer or drying at about
30 Celsius, to produce a very light powder with multiple uses. This powder can be used as a substitute
for fresh bananas in recipes such as cakes, or for snacks such as crackers or bars.
Like many fruits, banana can also be used to produce alcohol, and alike product such as wine.
This process is done by fermenting the banana peels and later distilling the product. To produce wine
the enzyme treated banana juice must be fermented with wine yeast for about two weeks, in which it
will later get bottled for storage.
In non-food related products, with banana fiber many by-products can be manufactured. Such
products include ropes, threads, baskets, toys, and other artisanal instruments. These items have the
benefit of being a clean alternative instead of using other materials that cause harm to the earth such as
deforestation. Another famous by-product of banana, which can be made from banana fiber or bark is b
paper. During harvesting, banana bunches that are leftover contain about 5% of fiber useful for the
manufacturing of this paper kind, maximizing the benefits of banana harvesting. Either by industrial or
artisan processes, banana paper is a staple reminder that bananas are an essential fruit in the world we
live in and can provide much more than just a healthy fruit to consume.
Adding value to banana is essential to provide new income streams in the ever-growing banana
market, as well as putting to use the overflow of production and the waste generated. In todays world
every single industry must be mindful about their production techniques, maximizing the use of
resources, specially limited resources that pose an effect towards nature. As well, utilizing bananas to
their full potential grows the culture behind the fruit, making it a staple fruit and agricultural product
across the world. Imagination becomes the only barrier when it comes to uses and by-products, and
bananas are an example of that. The world behind bananas is not only beautiful but filled with