Hakuna Banana is a delectable alternative to ice cream products that leaves you guilt free as it is not only healthy but more environmentally friendly than its dairy counterpart. For those with specific dietary needs who do not want to sacrifice sweets, Hakuna Banana’s Non-GMO, vegan, paleo-friendly, gluten free, dairy free, and plant based n(ice) cream is the ideal choice. I love that this Los Angeles based company was started by two driven women on a mission to create a Hakuna Banana - a “no worries” product with real ingredients that consumers can feel confident about their choice to purchase. I hope as they continue to grow, they diligently source locally and are mindful of their manufacturing practices both in terms of ethical considerations and environmental impact.
Within a pint of Hakuna Banana Banilla there are two bananas, coconut milk, dates, vanilla extract, guar and tara gum, vanilla bean, salt, and citrus fiber. It is a delicious non dairy alternative to ice cream. When further analyzing their three main ingredients, the selection of coconut milk was environmentally beneficial, as it is found to be a low-impact milk substitute, requiring less water and emitting less emissions than other popular alternatives such as almond or soy milk. However, depending on where the bananas are produced, they may have a negative impact on the environment due to the carbon required to transport them. While it is not clear, ideally they would be produced in Southern California and thus not require transnational transportation. Finally, dates have been rated by the Environmental Working Group as a “low concern food,” which provides confidence in the sustainability of this ingredient.
The producers have branded their product as “banana (n)ice cream” that is a “good-for-you treat” ensuring their product remains free of refined sugars, added flavors, sugar alcohols, and is non-GMO. This plant based product is vegan, gluten free, and paleo-friendly. Therefore, whatever dietary constraints a consumer faces, Hakuna Banana provides a solution that allows individuals to indulge with “no worries,” hence the name Hakuna Banana. Given that this product is targeted at such niche groups, such as vegans, I would assume that they would be considerate of not only the health, but the environmental impact of the ingredients they are choosing.
It is unclear how they source their ingredients. They are a relatively new company, so their website does not have extensive information about their sourcing, supply chain, or manufacturing practices. While they may have grown since the date of the article, three years ago, they were manufacturing their product in a commercial kitchen located in Los Angeles. If their operations are still this small, I assume that they would be fairly sustainable. Further, since they are located in California, they have the potential to locally source most of their ingredients, which would also grant them a high sustainability score (although I cannot confidently say they do or do not). On their website, they cite that they are working on partnering with an external partner to be able to ship their product nationally, as it is mostly just sold in Southern California at locations such as Whole Foods. I hope that as they expand, they consider their environmental impact of their distribution and packaging as much as they have been health conscious in the creation of their product.
Hakuna Banana was started by Mollie and Hannah, two women who became friends when they met at Berkeley. They both became lactose intolerant in their twenties and sought out a solution that was healthy and tasty - thus the birth of Hakuna Banana. After evaluating their Linkedin profile, it looks like their main operation remains in Los Angeles, which makes me feel confident in their production practices, as they would be subject to both California and federal labor laws which are comprehensive. Additionally, their Linkedin only cites the company having ten employees. With such a small team, I would assume that they treat their employees well. Finally, on their website’s blog they mention that they are a mainly remote run company, so it was easier for them to adapt to COVID times. This article provides five tips to make working from home more bearable. I think this shows that their company members are fun, creative individuals who not only care about one another but also care about the broader community of Hakuna Banana consumers.