Retail practices for banana

Improved retail practices can lead to a higher quality of bananas and improve customer satisfaction. For the highest freshness on the shelf and to minimize waste, 'first-in first-out' management may be the best strategy. However, quality inspections may lead to other decisions. The staff must be well trained in handling the different types of fresh produce. They must realize that fresh products such as bananas are very susceptible to handling damage and to unfavourable conditions such as too low or too high temperature.

Bananas on the shelf in a shop. Photo by Vipavlenkoff/

Good banana quality

Bananas are among the best-selling fresh products. Bright, clean, healthy ripe bananas attract the consumers attention. The preferences of customers differ, some like to buy yellow bananas while others prefer to buy bananas of greener colour, to enjoy them later. Offering both yellow bananas and bananas in a less advanced ripeness stage can serve multiple customer groups. The aim is to offer a constant product with good quality in appearance, taste and remaining shelf-life, and thereby less retail waste. The state of the banana in the retail phase (ripe) makes this fruit susceptible to handling damage. Retailers have an important responsibility as part of the supply chain to offer good quality bananas to consumers.

Attention points in the shop

  1. Premium bananas. Photo by WUR.

    Quality standards

    Bananas must comply with specific requirements in order to be allowed on the market. The produce must comply with legislation to avoid health and environmental risks, and meet quality standards. Quality standards include regulations such as minimum fruit quality, packaging and labelling requirements. Bananas must meet at least with the general minimum requirements, such as being intact and free from rotting. Additional requirements apply to Class Extra, Class I and Class II.
  2. Sustainability label on banana in the Netherlands. Photo by WUR.

    Types of bananas

    Cavendish cultivars are the most common bananas. They are available under the well-known brands, often indicated by the brand information sticker. Sustainability labels are common such as an organic brands, Rainforest-Alliance or Fairtrade. Some other dessert banana types are red bananas and apple bananas (a short banana). Dessert bananas are clearly different from the plantains or cooking bananas, which are large bananas, green, yellow or (partly) black and intended for cooking or frying.
  3. Good quality on the shelf, needs inspection upon receipt of bananas. Photo by WUR

    Quality inspection

    To be sure of a good product on the shelves, inspection upon receipt is important. Improper postharvest handling may have caused mechanical damage, while wrong temperature and time management may have caused chilling injury or over-ripeness. Ripeness can be determined by colour stage. If desired, the time till display can be postponed by storing bananas in the supplied packaging at an optimal temperature of 14-16 °C, but never below 13 °C.
  4. Banana sugar spot. Photo by WUR

    Colour stages

    Bananas usually arrive at retailers in colour stages 3 and 4 (from more green than yellow to more yellow than green). Consumers may buy these stages to enjoy later. Depending on the market, the most popular stage is usually 5 (yellow with green tips). After the fully yellow stage, small brown freckles (sugar spots) appear. These bananas are still very tasty, if you like a softer, riper fruit structure or for use in smoothies.
  5. Bananas on the shelf in a supermarket. Photo by WUR.


    Bananas are displayed at ambient temperature. Careful display, preferably in single layer, is important. When stacking in more layers, the hard crowns can leave marks on the bananas that lay on top of them. A clean and orderly display contributes to maintaining quality. Fruits with signs of decay should be discarded. Filling the shelves more often, instead of stacking a lot, will favour the banana quality.
  6. Handle bananas with care! Photo by WUR.

    Handling and quality

    Bananas should not be dropped or thrown. In addition to cosmetic damages to the external, internal bruising and flesh breakdown can occur. Never empty a box by holding it upside down. Especially the riper banana bruises easily. The banana stalks can get injured when lifting the bananas roughly by the crown. This part of the stalk then turns brown or black.