Diana’s Bananas launches innovative Organic Upcycled Certified Bites

Long an advocate of reducing food waste, the frozen banana treat brand continues working to compost banana peels for greater benefits. Learn more.

Keith Loria, Contributing Writer

June 25, 2024

4 Min Read
Diana’s Bananas launches innovative Organic Upcycled Certified Bites
Diana's Bananas

Diana’s Bananas, a staple in the freezer aisle known for creating wholesome snacks with simple ingredients for the entire family, has expanded its award-winning Banana Bites line to include Organic Milk and Dark Chocolate options.

But it’s not just the great taste that makes these indulgent bites so unique; the two new flavors are the first and only Upcycled Certified product in the frozen novelty section at the store. In line with Diana’s longstanding commitment to sustainability, the company supports farming practices by upcycling small, single, and irregular bananas from Ecuador.

Often, bananas are discarded for reasons as trivial as being the wrong size, shape or “lone bananas” separated from their bunches. This creates unnecessary waste, but Diana’s has found a solution by upcycling these bananas.  Instead of allowing those perfectly edible bananas to go to waste, Diana’s transforms the unwanted bananas into frozen, chocolate-dipped treats.

Neil Cox, CEO, Diana's Bananas

“The bananas are not bad; they simply don’t fit the aesthetic standards of the primary supply chain buyers,” said Neil Cox, CEO of the Chicago, Illinois-based company. “The bananas are still green when purchased. Upon receiving them, Diana’s brings them to the typical U.S. standards of ripeness using a scientific method known as Brix, which measures the natural sugars in fruit.”

This ensures that each banana reaches the ideal sweetness before being frozen and dipped in chocolate. Once the bananas are frozen and processed, their peels are composted so they play a valuable role in growing future crops. 

“Diana’s parent company has been in the business for over 50 years, sourcing and processing bananas and plantains at the core of its operations,” Cox said. “Initially, there was little international market for upcycled products, so those bananas were either sold locally or destroyed. However, Diana’s recognized the potential in these otherwise discarded bananas and incorporated them into their product line.”

Diana’s began upcycling bananas in the 1980s and 1990s, driven by the recognition of the value in bananas that were otherwise discarded for being too big, too small or separated from their bunches. 

“Today, Diana’s works with approximately 3,000 farmers and workers as part of their extensive banana supply chain,” Cox said. “This partnership not only supports the local agricultural community but also ensures a steady supply of bananas for upcycling. Diana’s has grown to be the largest processor of bananas in Ecuador, processing over 15 million bananas annually, with numbers continuing to rise annually.”

Diana’s ensures that upcycled bananas maintain their quality and taste in the final product through a meticulous process that emphasizes peak ripeness and immediate freezing. 

“Throughout the supply chain process, rigorous testing of all fruit occurs both at the farm and during the product’s lifecycle,” Cox said. “Once the bananas reach their peak ripeness, measured typically at 19-21 Brix, they are frozen at the source in Ecuador to ensure they are delicious, creamy and retain all their nutritious vitamins and minerals. Immediate freezing at the source is also crucial to eliminate any further degradation since fresh bananas are highly sensitive to spoilage.”

Diana's Bananas frozen treats come in a variety of flavors that aren't USDA Organic or Upcycled Certified. Credit: Diana's Bananas

The Diana’s team has been working with the Upcycled Food Association and its independent certifying body since 2021, viewing the partnership as an extension of its quality and supply-chain traceability processes.

“The first challenge was understanding and aligning with the guidelines and expectations for the certification, which required significant effort in verifying that Diana’s sustainability practices met the UFA’s criteria,” Cox said. “Once the guidelines were clearly established, the process became more seamless.”

Additionally, the partnership with the UFA has provided Diana’s opportunities to raise awareness about the Upcycled Certified label. Diana’s has leveraged its relationship for brand collaborations, giveaways and participation in trade shows. The brand has taken additional steps to ensure sustainability by obtaining certification for all its products, including the newest Organic Bites lines. This certification process ensures that the sourcing and processing of the bananas meet strict environmental and ethical standards. 

“Whole Foods Market is an ideal partner for launching this product due to its longstanding leadership and commitment to organic products and sustainability,” Cox said. “In the highly competitive retail landscape, Whole Foods Market has distinguished itself as a pioneer in supporting and identifying products that drive sustainability initiatives forward.” The new product is exclusive to Whole Foods Market right now.

Diana’s is continuously working on developing more novel and delicious combinations while expanding its distribution at Whole Foods Market. Additionally, Diana’s parent company is actively working on projects to generate more uses for banana peels, further enhancing its sustainability efforts.

“Diana’s is in the early phase of a peels initiative,” Cox said. “Given that banana peels make up approximately 50 percent of banana waste, this program focuses on composting the peels so they can be recycled back into the soil to create nutrient-rich conditions, effectively restarting the growing cycle. We are also exploring other projects aimed at converting banana peels into valuable organic matter designed to enrich the value chain further.”

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About the Author(s)

Keith Loria

Contributing Writer

Keith Loria is a freelance writer and father.

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