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Why Doesn’t Imperfect Sell Bananas?

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Since our founding in 2015, one of the most common questions we’ve gotten from our customers has been “Why can’t I buy bananas from Imperfect?” While most modern Americans can spell bananas thanks to the hard work of Gwen Stefani, have you ever thought it was odd that we don’t sell them, despite their reputation as the pop stars of the tropical fruit world? Digging into why we don’t sell bananas is one of those simple questions with an enjoyably complicated answer, much like understanding why Fyre Fest failed. So let’s take some time to learn about some of the more fascinating wrinkles of global food supply chains. 

Doesn’t Play Well With Others 

While they’re convenient and delicious for eaters, bananas are a logistical nightmare for companies to work with. They’re extremely temperature-sensitive and tough to store and ship. They’re also really tricky to plan around. Because of their sensitive ripening schedule, it’s very hard to hold on to excess bananas week to week without them going bad (probably why banana bread was invented!). That means you have to order exactly as many as you’ll sell, which doesn’t fit with our sourcing model and could actually cause us to waste more food during weeks when we didn’t sell through all of our bananas. 

Ripe for Disaster

Bananas also make it harder to store and ship everything else. They emit ethylene gas as they ripen, which makes nearby fruits and vegetables ripen and then spoil rapidly. This is why companies that import and ship bananas have entire temperature-controlled rooms separate from the rest of their inventory just to store their bananas. They carefully release ethylene gas in these rooms to control the ripening of the bananas, while employees monitor airflow and rotate bananas daily by color and ripeness. For Imperfect to start carrying bananas, we’d not only have to construct new temperature-controlled rooms within every facility we operate, but we’d also have to hire dozens of people to painstakingly babysit our bananas. Frankly, we’d rather invest our time and energy on groceries that more closely fit our mission.

Hard to Deliver 

We’re serious about quality at Imperfect, which is why we think long and hard about a new product before adding it to our lineup to make sure we can deliver it in excellent shape. We did a small pilot to see how bananas would hold up in delivery and, in full transparency, they performed very poorly. We’d rather not carry bananas than deliver you bananas that aren’t up to our high standards and arrive smashed, already halfway to banana bread. 

Oh, The Food Miles You’d Travel 

We care about food miles and try to avoid them when we can, and the reality is there are no domestically grown bananas. While we occasionally source surplus and imperfect tropical fruits that have already been imported, it doesn’t make sense for our mission to go out of our way to do so, even for a fruit as popular as bananas. Even if we wanted to go the extra mile and import them ourselves, sourcing produce from outside the US would require an import license, which we do not have as a company. 

No Imperfections 

Since we can’t import bananas the only way to sell them to you would be to buy them from an existing importer. We’ve tried to test this multiple times only to discover that imperfect bananas don’t get imported to the United States. That’s right, tragically retail stores have such rigorous specifications on size, shape, color, and curvature for bananas, that importers don’t bother bringing “ugly” bananas into the country because they don’t want to lose money on them. It’s a pretty tragic catch-22 that has us singing “yes, we have no bananas.” 

Not Aligned With Our Mission

Simply put, bananas don’t fit with our mission to build a better food system right now. Until we’re in a position to source them sustainably and responsibly, we won’t be joining the fray of buying and selling them for the time being. 


We hope this helps answer the million-dollar question of why one of America’s most favorite fruits is conspicuously missing in action at Imperfect Foods. Bananas are so ubiquitous in modern America, available in convenience stores and gas stations, that you’d almost forget they were a rare, fragile, tropical fruit with genetics as perilous as their history is sobering. We believe that knowing more about your favorite grocery items is the best way to make informed choices that align with your values and hope this nerdy tangent into the banana world has done just that for you.

37 Comments

  • Mary Ella
    June 16, 2021 at 7:31 pm

    I figured that most of these applied, but this is a really cool and thorough explanation. Appreciate y’all’s dedication to see how they fit in to the greater landscape of sustainability.

    Reply
    • Imperfect
      June 16, 2021 at 9:52 pm

      Absolutely. We always love to be transparent with our thought processes and enjoy spreading the banana knowledge too! 💚

      Reply
  • Rizz
    June 16, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    This is such a funny post! The writer is incredibly witty. This is a great explanation for why bananas aren’t a thing at Imperfect.

    Reply
    • Imperfect
      June 16, 2021 at 9:55 pm

      We appreciate that 🥰

      Reply
  • EMARIE
    June 16, 2021 at 10:11 pm

    The Fyre Fest reference had me dyin! 😂

    Reply
    • Imperfect Foods
      June 17, 2021 at 11:36 pm

      😉

      Reply
  • Leah
    June 16, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    Great answer. Also, why no watermelon?

    Reply
    • Imperfect Foods
      June 17, 2021 at 11:37 pm

      We do offer mini watermelons when available! 💚

      Reply
      • Kimberley
        August 22, 2021 at 7:04 pm

        Yes must have Watermelon 😋 the minis are delicious! We are coming back to imperfect foods because you offer the foods we love so please make a huge score on a crop of mini watermelons & everything will be sunnnshine😊😊😊😊😊

        Reply
        • Imperfect Foods
          August 24, 2021 at 8:40 pm

          Watermelons are one of our summer favorites! We hope to have a ton of those tasty mini melons for you to enjoy!

          Reply
  • Norma Jean
    June 16, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    Hmmmm! always wondered why and now we know…..no bananas

    Reply
  • BM
    June 17, 2021 at 2:19 am

    This was a really well written article.

    Reply
    • Imperfect Foods
      June 17, 2021 at 11:37 pm

      Thank you! 💚

      Reply
  • ELLEN
    June 17, 2021 at 10:01 am

    Imperfect would have to BE bananas to SELL them! Thanks for staying on mission.

    Reply
    • Imperfect Foods
      June 17, 2021 at 11:52 pm

      You abso-fruit-ly get the idea! 😉

      Reply
  • Trish
    June 17, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    A better story would be that everyone at Imperfect is a fisherman with a boat and tell all the tales of tragedy that happened bc bananas were on the boat. True story! See how bad bananas are at sea. And I’m not saying that just bc I sell apples. 🍎 😉

    Reply
    • Imperfect Foods
      June 17, 2021 at 11:53 pm

      It would truly be a novel for the ages. 😂

      Reply
  • Gwen Allred
    June 17, 2021 at 1:49 pm

    I also enjoyed the way it was written. I read ever word and read it to the end, which I generally don’t.

    Reply
    • Imperfect Foods
      June 17, 2021 at 11:51 pm

      Thanks a ton for the love, Gwen! We appreciate you!

      Reply
  • Jaw
    June 17, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    Great article. To be honest I had not noticed the absence of bananas, when there’s so many other seasonal, local fruit to choose from!

    Reply
  • Lisa
    June 17, 2021 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you for the explanation – this is the single biggest reason why I shifted from weekly delivery to bi-weekly because I needed to make a trip to another store every week for bananas. The other items that would be nice to have once in awhile are lower fat versions of regularly used products, such as yogurts, sour creams, cream cheeses, etc. instead of the full fat versions only.

    Reply
    • Imperfect Foods
      June 17, 2021 at 11:50 pm

      Thanks a ton for the feedback! We’ll pass it along!

      Reply
  • Jeri DiFuria
    June 17, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    I always wondered about bananas. That was a great explanation.

    Reply
    • Imperfect Foods
      June 17, 2021 at 11:36 pm

      Yay! Glad to hear it was helpful!

      Reply
  • Lori D.Haage
    June 18, 2021 at 12:35 am

    As an environmentalist and 41 year vegetarian, Imperfect has been very helpful during the pandemic. I wondered
    about the bananas but figured it was because they are so hard to get to be at the exact ripeness at the right time.
    It is perfectly alright with me not to have watermelon–it is the one fruit I can’t stand! Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Imperfect
      June 19, 2021 at 8:40 pm

      We appreciate you being a part of our wonky family and also appreciate you understanding about the bananas 💚

      Reply
  • Caitlin
    June 18, 2021 at 1:44 am

    Nice article. I had noticed the lack of fresh bananas but never minded. How do you source your banana nubbins? They are probably my favorite imperfect foods item.

    Reply
    • Imperfect Foods
      June 20, 2021 at 7:01 pm

      Our Banana Nubbins are made from organic Cavendish bananas that were too sweet and darkened due to ripening to meet other retailer’s specific cosmetic standards! Thankfully for us, they make for a tasty food waste fighting snack!

      Reply
  • Krystl B.
    June 18, 2021 at 2:13 am

    Hahaha I love this article! Very well written and this gives great insight to why you don’t carry bananas. Keep up the good work! 👍

    Reply
    • Imperfect
      June 19, 2021 at 8:41 pm

      Appreciate you 💚💚💚

      Reply
  • PHYLLIS SMITH PEMBERTON
    June 19, 2021 at 1:19 am

    Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today! This song is too old for most of your demographic, but the title is apt. Good article! but, then, I AM OLDER THAN DIRT.

    Reply
  • Mary Kaye Stephens
    June 19, 2021 at 5:39 pm

    Back in the 90’s there was a couple who were farming/growing many types of Bananas in the southern part of Miami, Fl. You might want to research and foung out if they are still in business after 20-30years.

    Reply
  • Whit
    June 20, 2021 at 12:05 am

    How do you source the banana nubbins?

    Reply
    • Imperfect Foods
      June 20, 2021 at 8:33 pm

      We make our sweet and delish Banana Nubbins made from Peruvian organic Cavendish bananas that didn’t meet other retailer’s specific cosmetic standards due to being darker than ‘normal’ from the ripening process!

      Reply
  • Gwen Lisboa
    June 22, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    You guys are really good! I was just thinking, hmm I wonder why there are never any bananas? Thanks for the explanation.

    Reply
    • Imperfect
      June 29, 2021 at 7:57 pm

      Appreciate you! And yes! Love being transparent about our inventory 💚

      Reply

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