Tackling the Food Sustainability Crisis: Meet ALOHA, the First Food Brand to Use Ponova™ Oil


You know those silly romantic comedies from the early 2000s where the “weird” girl gets a makeover and is suddenly gorgeous but, in reality, she was pretty all along and just needed to take off her glasses and straighten her hair?

That’s kind of how we feel about ALOHA’s protein bars. 

Plant-based protein has always had the potential to be delicious, but it needed a little pizzazz to make its true colors shine, and that is exactly what ALOHA has done with its plant-based protein bars.

On top of that, they’ve kicked it up a notch with 100% organic and sustainable ingredients, sourced from the beautiful state of Hawai’i where they give back as much as they gain.

These Plant-Based Protein Bars Walk the Walk

Sustainability has become the centerpiece of conversations surrounding the future of food and, as usual, was a major talking point and product feature at Expo West 2024.

That being said, tons of companies are talking the talk, but not enough are walking the walk when it comes to actually being more environmentally conscious.

It’s not enough anymore to just be plant-based and vegan. The new priority needs to be creating a truly sustainable product.

After our interview with Julia Shapiro, VP of Brand, we realized this could not be further from the truth for ALOHA.

This company is setting the standard, not just for plant-based products, but food products as a whole—for what a healthy and sustainable food product truly is.

Say “Aloha!” to the ALOHA Protein Bar Lineup

All ALOHA bars contain 100% plant-based ingredients with 14g of plant-based protein derived from a blend of brown rice and pumpkin seeds.

While brown rice is an incomplete protein (meaning it lacks the nine essential amino acids to build muscle), it makes up for this with pumpkin seeds, which are a complete protein. 

This makes the plant-based protein in these bars an excellent source of protein for those seeking sans-animal-protein options.

Additionally, ALOHA sources all of its ingredients from organic and sustainable sources and carries certifications for Non-GMO Project Verified, Climate Neutral Verified, and Certified B-Corp.Their bars are also 100% vegan and labeled as gluten-free*, stevia-free, dairy-free, and soy-free.

As you may have guessed from the name, many of the iconic Hawaiian ingredients such as macadamia nuts, Kona coffee, and sea salt—as well as a unique ingredient called Ponova™ Oil—are sourced from local farms in Hawai’i. 

ALOHA doesn’t stop there. The brand is also an active philanthropic partner to local nonprofits, giving  back a portion of its profits to provide environmental and agricultural education to local youth groups.

Array of Flavors

  • The Pa’akai Bar (Special Edition!): The Pa’Akai Bar is a special edition bar that uses unique and sustainable ingredients locally sourced from farms in Hawai’i, such as Ponova™ Oil. A portion of the proceeds from the purchases of these bars are donated to youth environmental learning programs.
  • The Kona Bar (Best Seller): One of the best sellers in the ALOHA protein bar lineup is the Kona Bar, made with 100% Kona Coffee, macadamia nuts, and Ponova Oil—all sourced from farms in Hawai’i. A portion of the proceeds are donated to one of their non-profit partners, Kupu™, who support agricultural education programs in Hawai’i.
  • Flavored Protein Bars: Though their Pa’akai and Kona bars are our favorites, you can’t go wrong with one of the 15 (yes fifteen!) flavors to choose from. As chocoholics, we’re obsessed with the Chocolate Fudge Brownie bar.

Chocolate Caramel Pecan, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Raspberry White Chocolate, Lemon Cashew, Vanilla Almond Crunch, Maple Sea Salt, Peanut Butter Cup, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Peppermint White Chocolate, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chocolate Mint, Coconut Chocolate, Chocolate Espresso Protein + Caffeine

What’s the Scoop on Ponova™ Oil?

As you may have seen above, ALOHA was one of the first food brands to use a curious ingredient called Panova™ Oil, a proprietary ingredient developed by Terra Viva in partnership with ALOHA. 

This is a buttery, gold-colored oil (similar in composition to vegetable oils like canola and sunflower) that is derived from a climate-resilient tree called a pongamia tree. 

Though this oil has been around for a while, Terra Viva found a way to make it food-grade by developing a unique process to extract the bitter taste from the oil.

But what makes this oil—in particular the pongamia tree—so amazing?

Well, pongamia trees are actually incredibly sustainable. Here are some fast facts about pongamia:

  • They are a regenerative crop that can grow in many environments
  • They require very little water
  • They’re naturally resistant to pests and diseases
  • The seeds can be used as medicine, lubricant, and potentially biofuel
  • The seed cake that is left behind after oil extraction can be used as a high-protein feed for livestock
  • Since the trees are used in reforestation to regenerate barren land, they are carbon-negative

Fun fact: A single pongamia tree removes one ton of carbon in its first 20 years, and each acre of a pongamia orchard removes an average of five tons of carbon per year!

This is just one example of what companies like Terra Viva and ALOHA can accomplish when they make an effort to source or create climate-resilient alternatives for our food system.

*Please note these are not certified safe for those with Celiac disease

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