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In recent years, jackfruit has been gaining popularity as a meat alternative in various cuisines around the world. This versatile fruit, which has been revered for centuries in Asian countries, is now being recognized for its potential as a global sensation in meat substitutes. Several companies, such as The Jackfruit Company and Jack & Annie’s, are leading the way in popularizing jackfruit as a viable alternative to traditional meat products.
One pioneering player in the field is The Jackfruit Company, founded by Harvard graduate Annie Ryu. The company sources sustainably harvested jackfruit from India, creating a positive social impact by providing income to local farming communities. With a range of products, including ready-to-eat meals and jackfruit chunks designed as meat substitutes, The Jackfruit Company has firmly placed jackfruit in the spotlight. As of 2022, the company has worked with 1,783 farmers, who collectively manage 516,677 jackfruit trees and sequester 28,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. These numbers are expected to increase as the company expands its operations.
To further popularize jackfruit as a meat alternative, The Jackfruit Company has formed a partnership with fast-casual restaurant chain Smashburger. For a limited time, Smashburger locations in New York, New Jersey, and Colorado offered a Classic Smash Burger made with Jack & Annie’s jackfruit patty. This marks the first time a fast-casual restaurant has incorporated jackfruit-based products into its menu. The collaboration emphasizes the shared commitment to quality ingredients and amazing taste, while also promoting the positive social and environmental impacts of jackfruit production.
The commercial potential of jackfruit is underpinned by its environmental credentials. Growing jackfruit requires no irrigation, pesticides, or fertilizers, and the trees contribute to a regenerative ecosystem. This makes jackfruit a more sustainable option compared to many other popular meat substitute crops. The global jackfruit market is expected to reach $380.96 million by 2028, fueling the broader growth of the plant-based meat industry, projected to hit $33.3 billion by 2031.
In addition to The Jackfruit Company, other companies are also making strides in the jackfruit market. Jack & Friends, for example, uses a unique blend of jackfruit and pea protein to create a plant-based jerky. Their products target the millennial and flexitarian market, offering a tasty and convenient snack option. Singapore’s Karana is another company harnessing the power of jackfruit to offer minimally processed meat alternatives. Their jackfruit sausages and burgers have debuted on the menu at Plantega, a New York City concept store specializing in plant-based options.
These companies are tapping into the versatility and sustainability of jackfruit as a convincing alternative to pork. As more consumers become aware of the benefits of a plant-based diet, the demand for jackfruit and other meat substitutes is expected to continue growing. With its ability to transform agriculture and food systems in emerging markets, jackfruit is poised to become a mainstay in the global meat alternative industry.