Turning Unwanted Bananas Into Energy Snacks With Upcycling


When Barnana Founder and Chairman Caue Suplicy was growing up in the south of Brazil, he ate dehydrated bananas. He didn’t eat any refined sugars, or sugars per se unless they were in dried fruits. And, as his dad was dehydrating fruits at home, he ate dried bananas as a form of candy. Fast forward to the 90s, and Suplicy started racing triathlons. At the time, he noted, there weren’t energy bars or gels for athletes yet. As a result, he and his friends started to eat dried bananas “as a form of energy for our races,” he told PYMNTS in an interview.

At the beginning of the 2000s, Suplicy came to the United States to race. He started eating some of the gels and bars that were available. Every time he went to Brazil, though, he would buy a lot of the dried bananas and bring them back. All of his friends used to love them, he says, and they were a better form of energy than the bars that were available in the states. Time went by, and he saw coconut water become a great success, which is a commodity product that came from Brazil, and then the same with acai berry.

Suplicy realized he missed the boat on coconut water and acai, but he realized that he loved the bananas (and his friends did, too). As a result, he thought there was an opportunity to start selling the bananas that he grew up eating. He ended up starting Barnana, which today carries a line of plantain chips, banana brittle and banana bites. “The idea is to have a lot of different products” that can serve for different occasions, he said. If consumers feel like something healthy in the morning or they are going to exercise, for instance, they can have a chewy bite. The company also has plantain chips for, say, those looking to snack, as well as banana brittle.

Upcycling Bananas

The company has a unique way of sourcing its bananas, as it upcycles the bananas that used to go to waste. Upcycling, in general terms, refers to making a useable product from unwanted items or waste, or adapting a product already in existence to add value in some fashion. In the case of Barnana, imperfect bananas may have scuffs, not be a perfect size or a bit too ripe. They may then usually be rejected for export. His company, however, takes those bananas and turns them into snacks. And, according to the company’s website, farmers lose as much as 20 percent of their bananas since they are not perfect.

When it comes to the company’s market, Suplicy notes that taste is the number one reason why people buy its products. What keeps them buying and supporting the brand, however, is the mission that it has and the things that it does that are good. Customers go on and recommend the company’s products to their family and friends, as the brand has strong word-of-mouth endorsement. Once consumers discover the brand, the company sells its products through its website. There, customers have the option to buy a few bags or sign up for a subscription. Shoppers can pay by credit card or PayPal.

The Market

In addition to eCommerce, the company’s products are available at the stores of retailers such as Ralph’s and Whole Foods. The company also is a certified B-corp, balancing purpose and profit. “We have a triple bottom line,” Suplicy said. The company takes into consideration the environment and the people working in the business beyond the traditional bottom line of profit. It’s important to the company that it grows, but not at all costs. In other words, it needs to take into consideration the people involved in the business and the environment as well. And it wants to inspire people to do good, eat healthily and protect the planet.

Beyond Barnana, other food innovators are taking food that might otherwise go to waste and turning it into new products. ReGrained, for instance, rescues the grain refined when beer is made (the brewing process takes the sugar out of the grain, which provides access to protein, micronutrients and fiber). The company then upcycles the grain into its “SuperGrain+” flour that it incorporates into its ReGrained products. The company sells snack bars made with its grains, offering varieties like Chocolate Coffee Stout Energy, Honey Cinnamon IPA Immunity and Blueberry Sunflower Saison.

From ReGrained to Barnana, innovative brands are turning rescued food into snacks — and sharing them with the world with the help of eCommerce.



The September 2020 Leveraging The Digital Banking Shift Study, PYMNTS examines consumers’ growing use of online and mobile tools to open and manage accounts as well as the factors that are paramount in building and maintaining trust in the current economic environment. The report is based on a survey of nearly 2,200 account-holding U.S. consumers.