The term “plant-based” is associated with healthy, nutritionally-dense food. And as the plant-based movement has expanded and become a billion dollar industry, more and more companies are debuting their own plant-based foods to join the trend. However, many of these plant-based products are as highly processed as their predecessors, and similarly lacking in genuine nutritional value.
In this episode of Health Mix, host and brand consultant Yareli Quintana sits down with Annie Ryu, the founder and CEO of The Jackfruit Company. Native to India, jackfruit is considered the “meatiest” plant on the planet. It is drought-resistant, naturally organic, a high source of fiber, low in calories, contains no saturated fat and cholesterol, and filled with vitamins and minerals.
“We’re partnered with over 1,000 farming families and buying all of the jackfruit that they want to sell,” notes Ryu. Jackfruit is available in excess supply throughout India, and a single jackfruit can weigh up to 100 pounds. “We’re estimated to be contributing 10 to 40 percent of the annual income of all the farming families we’re working with. It’s a transformative additional income for them.”
In the recent past, jackfruit was not readily available in the United States or worldwide markets. Jackfruit is not well-researched and has a short shelf life once harvested, so distributors tended to assume it would be impossible to work with the genetic diversity of the plant and establish a supply chain. The Jackfruit Company is working to change that.
“We’re dying earlier now in the United States than we used to be,” says Ryu. Part of her mission for The Jackfruit Company is to educate people worldwide on changing their day-to-day habits to better their lives as a whole. “What are we doing to our bodies every single day? What are you doing across the entire span of your life to put yourself in the best position to live a long life?”
“We’re supposed to be eating more plants, more fruits and vegetables,” adds Ryu. “And we need to be eating less of highly processed foods.”
The Jackfruit Company’s products are now available in over 8,000 stores across the United States. Check out the podcast above to learn more about jackfruit, organic certification concerns, and the future of the company.