Following the launch of food tech Karana’s whole food plant-based pork alternative created out of young jackfruit across six restaurants in Singapore, the startup has now partnered with restaurants in Hong Kong and a delivery brand to launch the products in the region.
Singapore-based Karana is now on menus across restaurants in Hong Kong namely Chaat at Rosewood; Sip Song by Maximal Concepts; Emerald in Central, all Beef & Liberty outlets, all Elephant Grounds outlets, Cantonese restaurant Cheung Kung Koon in Causeway Bay and Deliveroo brand HOT ‘N’ MEEN. In addition, it is partnering with gourmet food and ingredient distributor, Classic Fine Foods.
The whole food plant-based brand uses natural and sustainable ingredients with its first product developed out of jackfruit that is widely grown across Asia. The flesh of the unripe fruit is popular in Indian cuisines, but not used as widely in the rest of the region (the dried & sweetened mature flesh is a common snack across ASEAN countries) and often unnecessarily wasted. Thanks to its meat-like texture, young jackfruit is a much-loved ingredient in vegan recipes, with a shredded chicken or pork feel. Working with smallholder farms based out of Sri Lanka, KARANA aims to support these farmers by transforming jackfruit into plant-based pork alternatives that are available to consumers in shredded or minced formats.
The company’s unique selling point is its minimal processing of the fruit, which makes is chef-ready and contains only three other ingredients namely canola oil, sea salt, and natural flavours. The product is devoid of protein texturates, isolates, or concentrates and is free from artificial preservatives, colours and flavours.
Founded by American Dan Riegler and Australian Blair Crichton, Karana made its first presence in Hong Kong for Earth Day, April 22, in a pop-up by Chef Michael Smith and Peggy Chan at Shane Osborn’s Arcane, who showcased a jackfruit mapo tofu to diners.
In a press release seen by Green Queen, co-founder of Karana, Crichton said that while there are several plants that make for incredibly tasty meat-like textures, they chose to zero in on the king of meaty plants. “It is a massively underutilized resource, with an excellent sustainability profile and great potential in a wide variety of dishes. There were jackfruit products on the market, but we knew we could make them taste even better and bring out jackfruit’s potential for a strikingly meat-like texture, so we got to work on researching and developing Karana’s first products.”
Nature makes plenty of plants with incredible meat-like textures, and for our first ingredient, we zeroed in on the king of meaty plants: the jackfruit. It is a massively underutilized resource, with an excellent sustainability profile and great potential in a wide variety of dishesBlair Crichton, co-founder of Karana
Chef Manav Tuli of Chaat at Rosewood who is using Karana’s products in his signature ‘Baked Samosa’ said he was a fan. “I have always been in favour of plant-based meat substitutes – and I think Karana delivers this particularly well. Also, I grew up eating jackfruit and it has always been one of my favourite vegetables – so we hope to deliver something great with the Karana-based Baked Samosa.”
Co-founder of Karana, Riegler, who has a background in agricultural supply chains across developing markets in South-East Asia spoke to the eco credentials of the plant. “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 with KARANA we’ll be reducing that wastage while working with farmers to support the local economy.”
“We have always liked the idea of eating clean and the plant-based life is one that caters to us and the next generation. Featuring a whole-plant product such as Karana on our menus is a delicious and innovative way for us to continue to make the move towards this lifestyle,” concluded Kevin Poon, co-founder of Elephant Grounds.
60% of jackfruit is currently being wasted, a contributor to global warming, so with Karana we’ll be reducing that wastage while working with farmers to support the local economyDan Riegler, co-founder of Karana
Going forward, the company plans to unveil its retail offer of ready-to-cook dim sum products in Asia during the second half of 2021.
In January of this year, it launched in Singapore by partnering with six leading restaurants including Candlenut, Butcher Boy, Open Farm Community, Morsels, Atout and Grain Traders, an announcement that followed the closing of its US$1.7 million seed round last year, which witnessed support from industry leaders like Temasek, Tyson Foods and the CEO of Monde Nissin Corp Henry Soesanto.
The demand of plant-based meat is gaining momentum in Hong Kong from 170 restaurant outlets in the region along with the city’s supermarket giant ParknShop announcing its plans to expand its plant-based portfolio with Impossible Foods as part of Earth Month in April witnessing a 70% year-on-year increase in participation from food businesses.
Deliveroo too recorded a 160% growth of vegan and vegetarian orders over a 12-month period given that restaurants are scaling their vegan offerings from just triple-digits to soar over 1000 which accounts for around a fifth of the total share of food companies listed on the platform.
Lead image courtesy of Karana.