Once consumed solely in Asia, jackfruit is rapidly growing in popularity in Australia. Often used in stews as a meat substitute given its textural similarity to pulled pork, and mainly grown in the tropics, jack fruit is said to have single-handedly saved Sri Lanka from starvation over the years.
In the last few years, Jackfruit has begun growing commercially in the Northern Territory and Tropical North Queensland with leading brands Vegie Delights and Sanitarium releasing jackfruit products.
The country’s first Australian-owned jackfruit company – The Jack Man – will be one of the exhibitors showcasing to buyers and distributors at this year’s 2021 Naturally Good Expo on from May 30-31 at Sydney’s ICC.
The business currently services almost all of Melbourne’s vegan restaurants and is stocked in Coles and independent supermarkets. It will soon add two other leading retailers in the coming months, featured in Aldi’s special buys and collaborated with Coles to launch their jackfruit wraps which had great success.
So why all the buzz? “In Australia 12 per cent of people are now vegetarian and 32 per cent are limiting meat consumption,” says The Jackman CEO Mejo George who co-founded the company with Sri Lankan partner Thamali in 2018. “Jackfruit is in high demand because it’s incredibly healthy, mimics a meaty texture and is minimally processed.”
Mejo who migrated to Melbourne from Kerala, says their Smokey BBQ and Mexican jack fruit are strong sellers, however chefs love their Nude jackfruit which is not packaged in any preservative and is sourced sustainably from India. “Research shows 70 per cent of jackfruit goes to waste,” says Mr George. “Our production helps minimise waste, reduces carbon footprint and empowers local communities.”
The business currently has a new and exciting range in the pipeline for both retail and food services which they hope to launch by year’s end. “This range will be unlike any jackfruit product currently in the market. We are also scaling our roll out into other parts of Australia in the food services sector due to the surge in demand to feature jackfruit in menus. We see great potential.”