Jackfruit the SuperFood is the hope for a kinder and greener world

Asians have Jackfruit trees in their backyard and has been eating the fruit for granted for decades.  Jackfruit is a popular table fruit, it is sweet with sweetness level (Brix between 17-25),  the exotic ones also come with a tinge of sourness; and people just can’t get enough of it once they start. In one sitting, it is not uncommon that one individual could eat up to 500 grammes of Jackfruit Pulp! 

Although the emergence of Vegan and Vegetarianism has been for some time, the Covid 19 pandemic disruption in the supply of other greens and livestock proteins as well the desire for more sustanible consumption have prompted spikes in demand for Jackfruit. So chefs from San Francisco to London and Delhi is now touting Jackfruit as the alternative meat or plant based proteins ( PBP).  When UK Pizza Hut announced Jackfruit Pizza will be introduced into its menu as a permanent item, it is now mainstream and official. Jackfruit the super fruit will appear on the table as a kinder and greener choice of food. 

Jackfruit, the largest fruit in the world, weighs an average of 10 kg for Malaysian grade A fruit is very versatile in use. The entire jackfruit has its applicaitons; it is eaten raw as table fruit, used in cakes, breads, juices, purees, ice creams and crisps. IT is also used in cooking, fried, minced and sauteed. Now people love to have jackfruit as a topping on pizza and in taccos. The Jackfruit seeds are especially nutritious; it can be eaten roasted as a snack or made into a powder that has versatile applications. 

Rise in Veganism 

Rising interest in veganism has given rise to movements such as Meat Free Mondays and Veganuary; promoting the idea of plant-based meat or alternative meats. Over 600m people in the world prefer a vegetarian diet, and with the pandemic, the interest in Vegetarian meals are rising rapidly, it is reported that 1/3 of the carnivorous Brits are now eating vegetarian based meals. It is really a good time if the meat eaters can spend a day in a week or a month in a year on 100% plant-based diet, this will gradually shift dietary habits; and reduce the stress on the environment. 

The 2019 UN report advocated adopting more of a plant-based diet could help mitigate climate change –and consumers are turning to brands such as Impossible and Beyond Meat for plant-based replications of chicken, beef, and pork. In Asia, soy-based tofu and tempeh, and wheat derivative seitan, along with jackfruit are rising stars on the dinner table. So let us retire the cows, and make them friends than food!

Texture that take on other taste 

Young jackfruit pulp is firm and chewy; you get a hard bite like meat, this nice texture absorbs flavours and spieces that the chefs can be creative with. Mixed with rice flour, chick pea or soya issolates, they can be made into patties, meat balls and chunks to cook Chinese, Thai or any of the popular curries Asians are good at. Jackfruit can have a good impact on diabetic patients, and firms are now verifying this with Glycemic Index Research. This is especially significant for Rice-eating Asia with very high incidence of diabetics in the world. 

The World’s Hope to feed millions

Global warming is wreaking havoc on agriculture and the shortage of water is a big concern. Food scientist are hoping that jackfruit could be the hope as it can be a nutritious staple crop which does not require too much water and is drought-resistant and requires little maintenance. Because of its new found fame, planters and governments will do well to come up with sustainable produciton plans, with attention paid to the environment and post harvest processing infrastructure. Extensive marketing and affordable pricing should be born in mind so that the fruit can be accessible to a wider population through integrated balance of plantation and forestry programs.

A Super Nutritious Food

Historically, Jackfruit is an exotic fruit typically grown in the backyards in the tropical regions of the world and is a part of the Moraceae plant family. It is extensively cultivated in an unorganized or informal way in Asia; South and Southeast Asia countries including India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, and Nepal. Jackfruit possess an impressive nutrition profile; traditionally used as a remedy,and in native medicine.  Jackfruit provides multiple health benefits including antioxidant protection, maintaining cardiovascular health, boosting immunity, lower blood pressure and sugar, and anti-inflammatory.

IQF will bring innovation 

It looks quite certain that the world’s romance with Jackfruit is blosooming; and there will be an explosion of interest and creativity on jackfruit based cuisines. Food dishes from curry, chips, jam, soup, candy, ice cream to savory such as nuggets and meatballs. 

These are all great however the jackfruit is highly perishable and only can last 2-3 days when ripen. Here is where a breakthrough solution can come to its rescue;  use Instant Quick Freeze ( IQF) technology to preserve the fruit upon harvest. IQF could lock in the nutrient, aroma and taste in a very short freezing cycle and preserve the goodness under -18° cold storage for up to 18-24 months. This innovation will make export and transport to urban markets possible. So the way forward to create this future is scaling up productivity; innovation and technology and creativity in applicaiton. The government will do well to invest in the creativity for this industry to build it into a billion dollar final product business. 

Malaysia to build the ingredient industry  

Malaysia has the oil palm industry for over a century, and it is still by and large a commodity industry with low value add. The country will no longer able to compete on the commodity front because our surrounding neighbors have better conditions; larger land mass, larger local population and proximity to large markets and big domestic markets. The only way forward for us is to invest in higher value creativity added industry; nurturing a new generation of young chefs using new ingredietns. Our agriculture sector will produce these fantastic ingredients nurtured by our equatorial climate. 

(Madam Foong Wai Fong is advisor to Malaysia’s largest post harvest facility in Lanchang where the country’s largest plantation holidng of Jackfruit is. The Sun Fresh Fruit Hub in the permanent food production park has the largest IQF tunnel freezer and cold room in the region.)

More on Jackfruit can be accessed at https:www.alliedmarketresearch.com/jackfruit-market

Published by Global Hanyu

The leading provider of Mandarin and Study China programs

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