Karana Founders on Creating Asia’s First Plant-Based Meat Alternative Using Jackfruit
The alternative protein industry, which includes cell-based and plant-based companies, has been mushrooming over the last few years spurring a movement to change the way we eat. The products may be different but their collective goal is to repair our broken food systems and achieve a more sustainable future by reducing global meat consumption and replacing them with other protein-rich solutions.
Food security is a precarious issue especially in Singapore where arable land is scarce and produce is generally imported. However, the government is strategically focusing on producing 30 per cent of the population’s nutritional needs by 2030 through an innovative route. With scores of industry experts, like-minded investors, and an open-minded dining scene, Singapore offers a promising ecosystem for the following food tech companies to thrive and launch their global crusade to change how food is made, distributed and consumed right here on our shores.
Founded in Singapore in 2018 by its co-CEOs Blair Crichton and Daniel Riegler, Karana is Asia’s first whole plant-based meat brand. Its first product is whole plant-based pork made from organic young jackfruit sourced from Sri Lanka. Karana’s solutions deliver a revolutionary next-generation meat alternative. The company uses proprietary processing technology to create “meat” from whole plants, and enhance the ingredients’ texture, without any chemicals or heavy processing.
Riegler points out, “Jackfruit is one of the most sustainable crops in the world and a very friendly crop for smallholder farmers. It can offer significant income generation potential while requiring minimal inputs and maintenance. It is mostly grown intercropped (crops grown among other plants, usually in alternating rows or sections) on mixed farms, which is much better for soil health and provides diversification for farmers."
He adds, “[It was chosen] based on its sustainability profile and potential for various product applications—and we apply a similar framework to other ingredients we are exploring. We have exciting things in the pipeline, but there is still a lot more we can do with jackfruit.”
On choosing to base the business in Singapore, Riegler explains, “Singapore is very well-positioned geographically and as a logistics hub to be a centre for innovation in food and agriculture for the region. Given the level of intellectual property protection, business climate, and addressable market in APAC, Singapore should become a major player, especially as larger food companies continue to invest here and the resources available to startups increase.”
In 2021, Karana’s jackfruit-based pork will be offered in shredded and minced formats to the restaurant and food service sector. The company also hopes to expand its food service and retail product lines in Singapore and launch in other markets, starting with Hong Kong. Riegler shares: “We will be launching our ready-to-cook dim sum line and developing a whole range of convenience-focused whole plant-based products, as well as working with new ingredients and types of ‘meat.’”