The story of The Jackfruit Company (TJC) began in India in 2011, where our founder, Annie Ryu, traveled on a medical student mission. She saw her first jackfruit at a local market. A closer inspection and taste piqued her curiosity about the massive, unique fruit. She soon discovered that jackfruit is native to India and super abundant there, but most was going to waste due to lack of supply chains and commercialized product offerings. That discovery became the driving force to create TJC, and we set out with a mission to convert wasted jackfruit into income for farming families - delivering delicious, nutritious food for U.S. consumers.
TJC was founded on the idea of social entrepreneurship – a business with a conscience. We saw an opportunity to make a strong environmental and socioeconomic impact by mainstreaming the world's meatiest plant – jackfruit. Jackfruit is a low-maintenance, high-yield crop with a naturally meaty texture and neutral taste, making it a perfect substitute for meat.Our goal is to create a pathway to turn jackfruit into income for farming families, while positively impacting the environment and human health. As our company grows, so does our ability to make strong, positive impacts on the environment, the well-being and financial stability of India's farmers, and the health of consumers looking to integrate plant-based options into their diet.
At TJC, we're committed to making a positive impact on the lives of the farmers we work with and supporting strong environmental and social impacts by bringing the planet's "meatiest" plant into the mainstream. Our founder, Annie, set out to build a supply chain that would source jackfruit directly from farmers and farming families in India, as well as build market demand for this "miracle crop." Until Annie began to build this unique supply chain, scaled jackfruit supply chains did not exist in India.
Jackfruit is a massively underutilized crop. It's an abundant fruit, native to India, where more than 70% of jackfruit was going to waste. Jackfruit trees in this region are incredibly low maintenance, which means our farmers don't water them or use any soil amendments. Because jackfruit is so prolific – a single tree can yield 2 to 3 tons of fruit per year – the lack of supply chains has meant that millions of tons of jackfruit go to waste each year in India alone.
Our harvesting/sourcing system is uniquely positioned as a customized system of supply chains, allowing farmers to earn incremental income on a product that was naturally growing on their land. Some of our jackfruit trees age over 100 years and all thrive naturally. It is special to connect these ancient fruits from Southeast Asia to consumers in the U.S. and we work with a network of more than 1,000 farming families in India to responsibly grow, harvest and source our jackfruit. Our partnerships with these farmers include helping them convert their land to meet organic standards, training farmers on how to harvest jackfruit, and giving back to communities by providing necessities like rice cookers and tarps for farmers' homes. As our company and supply chain have grown, we have also instituted a program for planting new jackfruit trees. As part of our commitment to strong environmental and social leadership, we are currently in the process of becoming a certified B Corp company.
Through building a jackfruit supply chain, engaging farming families directly, and providing incremental income opportunities, it has been our mission to create additional streams of income for farmers who participate in our supply chain. By harvesting wild jackfruit, our farmer partners gain the ability to have multiple income streams, and by converting their land to organic and selling organic jackfruit to us, they can garner both a premium price for all the crops they sell, as well as substantial incremental income from selling their jackfruit. As the farmers in the TJC family also harvest and grow other crops, harvesting jackfruit is an opportunity to grow their capacity, bring in more income for their families, and earn above and beyond what they earn from other crops on their farm.
Today, TJC produces many plant-based jackfruit products that are whole-food meat alternatives, which not only positively benefit human health, but help to reduce consumers' environmental footprint by reducing meat consumption.
Annie's goal was to convert jackfruit to income for farming families, and to a meat alternative that positively impacts human health and the environment: by replacing meat consumption with an organic, high-yield tree crop, our enterprise reduces humanity's environmental footprint. Since we started selling our meat alternatives in 2014, we've seen strong progress toward our impact goals.
To showcase our positive financial impact with farmers: in July 2018 the Indian Government increased the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Kharif crops (eg: Paddy, Maize, Cotton, etc.) to give farmers 50% return on input costs, whereas The Jackfruit Company's farmers on average earn 200% return on input costs.
As far as reducing meat consumption, we continue to increase our distribution in retail stores to make jackfruit available to more and more consumers in the U.S., to educate on the benefits of plant-based eating, and to offer delicious products that consumers want to eat in place of meat. To date we have sold millions of units of jackfruit-based meat alternatives to retailers, and we are in conversation with major restaurant chains to make jackfruit extremely accessible.Our efforts have led to strong relationships with farmers in India, enabling us to support farmers' livelihoods, and develop methods of harvesting jackfruit that works in harmony with nature, respecting wildlife and the environment. As jackfruit goes mainstream, we will support and partner with thousands more farming families, while bringing healthy, plant-based options to consumers.