Sustainability and reducing food waste at Chiquita


March 31st 2020 ・ 10 min reading

Bananas are the fourth most important food crop in the world, after rice, wheat, and maize. They are an essential food for millions of people around the world, but despite the amount of bananas that are produced and consumed every year around the world, one of Chiquita’s sustainability goals is that by 2020, no banana will be wasted.

At Chiquita, we are proud of our high export product standards. However, this means that some bananas do not meet the cut. Naturally, 5% to 20% of bananas do not meet our Chiquita quality standards each year. There are several reasons for which a banana will not meet the standards, but this doesn’t mean they don’t serve a good purpose.

When bananas do not meet the export standard

Often, bananas don’t meet the quality standard because they don’t look good. Small differences in the appearance mean that the banana will not be exported for store display. These bananas are, nonetheless, still perfectly good to consume in other ways – like banana purée for example.

Chiquita owns a purée plant in Costa Rica, where an average of 65,000 tons of bananas a year, from Panama and Costa Rica, are processed into delicious, wholesome banana purée. If they don’t become banana purée, they become banana flour. In 2016, Chiquita sold 16,000 tons of non-exportable bananas to the company Inversiones y productos agroindustriales (Inprosa).

If bananas are bruised, on the inside, then what happens to them? In our efforts to reduce food waste, they are put to good use too! These bananas are given to farmers who use them to feed their livestock.

What about the rest of the banana plant?

Here at Chiquita, nothing goes to waste! The inedible parts of the banana plant are not thrown away as they also have a very practical use. We use the banana leaves, trunks and stems to promote sustainable farming – protecting the soil from erosion and conserving moisture. Banana plants are the perfect biological and natural fertilizer. The composting trenches on the farms are also a favorite feeding place for birds, deer, insects and frogs, which is great for protecting biodiversity in the area.

Banana Energy

Chiquita bananas are a great energy source, not only for our bodies, but for the entire ecosystem too! Chiquita’s latest innovation, the biodigester system, makes it possible to harness energy from discarded fruit materials that previously could not be captured. It is located at the Chiquita Tropical Ingredients facility in Costa Rica. This becomes a sustainable energy source for the facility and filters processing water. This benefits the company, the communities around the farms and the entire planet.

Reducing Food Waste at Home

Here at Chiquita, we’re doing our best to make sure no bananas go to waste – and there’s lots you can do at home to reduce food waste too. Remember, there are so many delicious banana recipes to make, using ripe and overripe bananas. Try using your ripe Chiquita bananas in a banana smoothie or banana bread. Very ripe bananas can also be easily frozen by peeling and chopping them up in small batches.

We hope you can join our sustainability journey by reducing food waste at home. Besides simply peeling and eating, there are so many ways to cook and bake with bananas, so don’t be afraid to load up your shopping cart with bananas next time you’re at the store!

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