“It’s a great meat alternate because it mimics the texture and appearance of meat without any of the negative nutritional effects," said Eric Evans, vice president of food service and industrial ingredients at The Jackfruit Company.
It was exhibiting at IFT for the first time this year, serving up jackfruit in Mexican tacos, tuna-style salad and Vietnamese nem.
"It has a fibrous, stringy texture and the core is solid but as you heat it up and cook it, that breaks up and shreds. It can be shredded, pulled, crumbled and minced, taking on various forms depending on the application.”
With 7 g of fibre and 2 g of protein per serving, a neutral taste and no sugar – the fruit is harvested before it ripens – it works well in savoury applications.
The Jackfruit Company works with over 350 contracted farmers in rural Southern India and processes the fruit in India as well.
“We have an excess supply," Evans said. "Quite frankly, it’s the largest tree-borne fruit in the world in terms of tonnage and the majority of the jackfruit that grows in Southern India goes to waste, it’s not consumed. So we are creating a sustainable supply chain and an excellent source of jackfruit for the US and eventually the world.”
Thanks to the minimal processing required to transform jackfruit into a useable ingredient, it is at parity with, or even cheaper than, other plant-based meats such as soy, Evans said.
The Jackfruit Company already sells its shelf-stable, certified organic product in retail outlets throughout the US and is in discussions with processors and manufacturers to continue its product development and create "new ingredient innovations".