How one exotic fruit could go mainstream

·1-min read

Spiky, enormous and largely unknown in Australia, the exotic jackfruit could soon become a supermarket staple.

Predominantly grown in South and Southeast Asia, jackfruit has grown in popularity in western cultures as a plant-based meat alternative.

When ripe, it tastes sweet and tropical, subtly redolent of banana, mango and pineapple.

Unripe, it can be used in savoury dishes like curries.

However, jackfruit remains an untapped food source in Australia, perhaps due to its spiky exterior and cumbersome size.

A jackfruit can weigh up to 50kg and is the world's largest tree-grown fruit.

A group of food scientists at Monash University has been commissioned by the Northern Territory government to see whether they can make jackfruit more consumer friendly.

This will involve repackaging and repurposing the unfamiliar fruit and finding ways to process it into ready-to-eat products.

"Jackfruit has so many benefits; it is high in fibre, minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, and it is a good source of vitamin A, B1 and B2," lead researcher Leonie van 't Hag said.

"It is a good source of Lysine, an amino acid that vegetarians and vegans can struggle to obtain in their diet.

"Research also suggests that jackfruit has many classes of phytochemicals that have anti-cancer, anti-hypertensive, anti-ulcer and anti-ageing properties."

The Australian jackfruit industry, based in the Top End and Far North Queensland, is valued at $2.6 million.

But research suggests the industry has the potential to double or even quadruple by 2025, if new growing and processing methods are adopted.