Produce Processing

March/April 2017

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14 M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 7 F E A T U R E B A N A N A P R O D U C T S GROWING DEMAND FOR HEALTHY SNACKS and ingredients hasn't left the ubiquitous banana behind. P r o ce s s or s a r e u si ng va r iou s applications to bring bananas to consumers in a variety of forms. Take Zuvii. One of the company's founders, David Wintzer, was on a service trip awarding small microloans to businesses in Kenya in 2010 when he encountered a fledgling company that was manufacturing banana flour. Made from unripe green bananas, banana flour is high in starch, so can be used as a replacement for wheat flour in recipes, and is gluten-free at that. "A not her proper t y is ... it 's a prebiotic – it feeds the good bacteria in your gut," he said. "Most starches spike blood sugar levels. This does just the opposite – it flushes out the colon, helps with diabetes, helps with weight loss." FLOUR ALTERNATIVE Returning to the United States, Wintzer and some partners decided to get into the banana flour business. The company they originally met up with in Africa wasn't in a position to supply product at the level they needed, so they spent a few years finding suppliers and distributors. A 2015 kickstarter campaign helped launch Wedo brand banana f lour, though they've just transitioned to the company name of Zuvii. They've also expanded with a line of cake, brownie, pancake and waffle mixes that utilize banana flour instead of traditional flour. Zuvii uses No. 2 bananas, or seconds that are "perfectly good" but misshapen or otherwise not suitable for retail sale. "We traveled around the world – probably about seven or eight countries produce banana flour, and we visited upwards of 10 facilities in each of these countries," he said. "We've seen multiple methods of how it works, what works right, what works wrong and how to make it better." The bananas have to be green, so there isn't time – and it would be more expensive – to bring them to the United States. So Zuvii has contracted with GOING BANANAS FROM FLOUR TO SNACKS, STAPLE MAKES ITS WAY INTO THE DIET By K at hy Gibbon s Contribu ting Wri ter Raw bananas are popular on their own, but also gaining traction as processed products. Photo: Crispy Green

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