Meet Karana: Asia's first whole plant-based meat brand, with "pork" made from jackfruit
Let's put it this way: nothing fazes us anymore when it comes to plant-based meats. Whether it's jackfruit that taste like pork, or rather pork that tastes like jackfruit — the roles can be reversed any day now. In the stead of emerging start-ups (like the imminent plant-based egg) is Karana, Asia's first plant-based meat brand, that's kickstarting their brand with plant-based pork, made from young jackfruits.
Here to address the food safety, security, and supply chain issues, Singapore-based Karana prides on their meat alternatives being transparent, minimally processed, and made from whole plants with natural meat-like qualities. The jackfruit sourced for the plant-based pork, hails from small holder farms in Sri Lanka and it's transformed into a meat-alternative — either shredded or minced. In the process, they eschew harsh chemicals, heavy processing. but instead, they employ innovative mechanical techniques to enhance the texture of the fruit.
The pilot launch in Singapore is yet another testament to the growing market and potential for food tech innovation. According to co-founder of Karana, Blair Crichton: "We saw a gap in the market for minimally processed plant-based alternatives that offer the right texture and are also versatile in the kitchen, so we worked with our team of experts to figure out an entirely new way of processing young jackfruit to make it more meat-like and easier to cook with while keeping the integrity and benefits of the whole plant."
So why jackfruit? Dan Riegler, Karana's other co-founder, spent years working in agricultural supply chains in developing markets in South-East Asia, as well as across a wide range of start-ups in agriculture, food tech, and fintech. "Sustainability has never been more important, especially when it comes to food, and our first base ingredient was carefully chosen with this in mind. Jackfruit is an extremely efficient crop with high yields and low water usage, making it friendly to smallholder farmers. It is typically grown intercropped, promoting biodiversity. 60% of jackfruit is currently being wasted, a contributor to global warming, so we'll be reducing that wastage while working with farmers to support the local economy," remarked Riegler.
You can find this first-of-its-kind pork at six leading restaurants on our shores — namely Candlenut, Butcher Boy, Open Farm Community, Morsels, Atout, and Grain Traders. Chef-owner of 1-Michelin Candlenut, Malcolm Lee said: "At Candlenut we believe in using the best possible ingredients and keeping things simple, which is why we're thrilled to be a launch partner for Asia's first whole-plant meat substitute, Karana. We're looking forward to introducing our new Karana dish to diners, to offer them all the texture and flavour, without any processing."
One thing's for sure, the only way is up for the realm of food tech. Which gives us plenty to hope to procure better meat-tasting alternatives that aid the environment with minimal or no processing involved. The perfect plant-based meat, that is.