This company is crafting flavorful meat alternatives while also making a positive impact on communities in India, all through one mighty plant.
Jack (aka jackfruit) and Annie’s (CEO and founder, Annie Ryu) is a sustainable vegan brand that specializes in making meat alternatives from the giant green plant known as jackfruit. The idea for the company came to Ryu during a trip to India, where she discovered jackfruit at a street vendor’s stand. The jackfruit was delicious and satisfying with a meat-like texture, in addition to being high in protein and fiber while low in calories. Upon discovering this tasty green plant, Ryu decided to take a leap of faith and began making plans to start her own company with jackfruit at center stage.
Nearly 10 years later, Ryu founded Jack & Annie’s in 2020. The company is based in Boulder, Colorado and creates a variety of vegan meat alternatives—such as savory breakfast sausage, nuggets, and meatballs—with jackfruit as the main ingredient.
Here’s how Jack & Annie’s is building a better planet bite by bite.
The Road to Creating a Sustainable Product
While studying as a Harvard medical student in 2011, Ryu and her brother Alex traveled to India to implement a maternal and child healthcare program they developed together. After seeing her first jackfruit at a street vendor’s stall, Ryu became fascinated not only by its size but also by the flavor and texture of the plant. She then set out to learn more about jackfruit and discovered the many nutritional and ecological benefits of it.
Jackfruit is a nutritionally dense tropical tree fruit and is high in sustaining fiber, low in calories, and versatile in flavor. The jackfruit tree is also wholly adapted to its environment, easy to grow, and resistant to high temperatures and drought. Despite its health and environmental advantages, the majority of jackfruit in India was still left unsold and uneaten.
Through jackfruit, Ryu found an avenue to do what she does best—improve the lives of others. Since its founding, Jack & Annie’s has made it a goal to increase the availability of jackfruit across the globe and to create better opportunities for jackfruit farmers. Today, Jack & Annie’s supplies their jackfruit products to over 6,000 retailers in the US and works with over 1,000 farmers whose families benefit from the sales.
Plant-Based Meat Made from Jackfruit
Jackfruit is grown on jack trees, known to be easy to grow, resistant to drought and heat, and adaptable to changing climates. The jackfruit also has an absorbent, meat-like texture and subtle taste, which is why it takes on the flavor of the spices and seasonings it’s cooked with.
The versatility of jackfruit allows for Jack & Annie’s to create plant-based meat alternatives in a variety of flavorful products, including a line of frozen crumbles, meatballs, nuggets, Buffalo wings, and breakfast sausage. Their refrigerated line features apple sausage, Italian sausage, and smoky pulled pork, ideal for sandwiches or taco night.
Real Food from Real Farmers
Jack & Annie’s believes in creating real food from real farmers, which is why they continue to facilitate the organic certification of farms in India. This allows farmers to grow and sell certified organic crops on their land and opens the door to new trade opportunities.
In addition, Jack & Annie’s has prompted more demand for jackfruit, a crop that formerly went unused. Through this demand, and in combination with the organic certification of farmers’ land, the company has been able to contribute an incremental 10-40% of the farmers’ annual income and help fund community support programs that provide tools and cooking vessels to make the tasks of everyday life easier for both the farmers and their families. Additionally, Jack & Annie’s has also planted 26,500 jackfruit trees in 2021 and provided training on jackfruit cultivation to select farmers.
The company plans to plant more than 70,000 trees in 2022 and continues to work with farmers to help them earn additional income.
Where to Buy Jack and Annie’s
You can find Jack and Annie’s products at major retailers nationwide, such as Whole Foods, Target, Meijer, Sprouts, and Fresh Thyme. The products can also be ordered online at Amazon.com.