Quality Insights

Back to Bananas!

25 September 2019

Back to Bananas!

Summer holidays have come to an end, and that dreaded phrase Back to School is hanging over the nation's children. Once the school shoes and stationery are sorted, the contents of the daily lunch box is next on the list.

The humble banana is a very popular choice and nature's own snack-in-a-pack and as lunch boxes are filled banana sales start to soar.

In terms of turnover, bananas are one of the most important products sold in stores. Yet, interestingly, its commercial success in Europe and the US depends only on one variety: Cavendish.

Bananas stay tight and fresh in their own packaging, fitting neatly inside the lunch box. They are sweet, filling, full of vitamins, and also very convenient as they need no preparation. Plus kids love them.

A versatile fruit, the banana lends itself well to whatever is trending. Low in fat but high in carbohydrates, it can be served very simply in a smoothie and in more complex recipes. Bananas can be eaten in both sweet and savoury dishes such as Eton Mess or Thai Curry.

It has even held it's own in the fashion world with textiles still featuring bananas in tropical prints. As the banana has been a prominent design motif in children’s wear, kids in their banana shirts are getting the message - bananas are great!

Over 100 billion bananas are eaten around the world every year that's on average 12 kg per person.

In the process of bringing bananas from the grower to the supermarket, timing is critical. From harvest to shipping can take around 3 weeks, after which the fruits are taken to ripening centres in their European destinations. A week later they arrive in store.

So what are consumers looking for in bananas? Perfect colour in stores and proper shelf-life after purchasing are the key features. There is nothing more frustrating for a consumer than green bananas or bananas that turn brown or get sugar spots within two days.

However, what really matters for repeat purchasing is flavour.

There are a few factors that directly change the flavour of bananas:

  • Leaving the bunches longer on the plants. In the tropics starch content of bananas is increased the longer they are left on the plant, and this results in higher sugar content after ripening. Bananas produced closer to being on-sale often have higher sugar content when fully ripe.
  • Ripening slowly and under very controlled conditions improves the flavour and, curiously enough, shelf-life.
  • Minimising dehydration after ripening also positively helps to maintain flavour.

Ensuring perfect quality bananas are on the shelves in a supermarket is complex. We evaluate the quality of bananas in stores, and we combine those findings with analysis of eating quality in our laboratory. This provides a complete picture of banana quality, helping to fine tune the different processes that are critical to successful sales.

Bananas are an important and very stable category in the fresh produce department and their health-giving properties are well documented. InQuality can offer retailers and stores a 360-degree picture of banana quality to help fine-tune the different processes that are critical to successful banana sales, from farm to retail shelf.

For more information on how we can help you, contact us on info@inquality.eu.


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