The flour, called NuBana, has a beige color and neutral flavor, and can be milled into a free-flowing powder to replace wheat or rice flour, maltodextrin, xanthan gum, sugar, corn starch, and more, the company says. Applications include reduced-sugar fruit roll-ups and gluten-free muffins. It is particularly effective in products that require viscosity or water binding, including pasta, puddings, coatings, fruit fillings, beverages, dressings, baby food or meats.
IAG offers two flours: NuBana N100, which has high viscosity and can replace native starches; and NuBana P500, a pre-gelatinized flour that thickens in cold water and can replace hydrocolloids and stabilize fruit systems. Both would be labeled as “green banana flour” or “banana flour”.
Banana flour has been used as a cheap alternative to wheat flour in areas where the fruit is grown around the world for many years, but it is has only appeared in the U.S. market during the past few decades. Until now, sales have been largely relegated to retail and boutique stores, but with the burgeoning desire for natural, clean label ingredients, IAG aims to seize the flour’s potential in the manufacturing sector. If its wide-ranging functionality lives up to the company’s promise, it could clean up labels by replacing a range of poorly understood ingredients with one of the most desirable foods: fruit.
Another U.S.-based company specializing in green banana flour, WEDO, aims to tap into the paleo trend because the product acts like a flour but is grain free. Green banana flour offers a less gritty or grainy texture than other gluten-free flours, such as almond or rice flour. It is also high in potassium and RS2 resistant starch, which acts as a prebiotic and prevents spikes in blood glucose levels.
When it comes to commercial use, it is still early for green banana flour, but there is evidence that major food manufacturers are aware of its potential. Looking at patent applications, PepsiCo has examined using unripe bananas and plantains as an ingredient in gluten-free cookies, crackers, snack bars, smoothies and cereals. If a company like PepsiCo has success expect other food manufacturers to quickly follow.