PHOTO: COURTESY OF TRADER JOE’S
Trader Joe’s is wasting no time in the new year. We’re only three days in and the grocery chain is already adding new items to store shelves. Yesterday, TJ’s announced its first new product of 2019, and fittingly, it involves one of the year’s predicted food trends, jackfruit.
According to Trader Joe’s official announcement of what it has dubbed, Jackfruit Cakes, they’re meant to be served like a crab cake. These savory little patties are made by mixing dried and shredded jackfruit with tapioca starch, potato, chopped green onions, and “peppery, celery-salt-infused seasoning.”
Jackfruit has been working its way up as a popular meat substitute among vegans and vegetarians in recent years, so the introduction of a product that uses the fruit as a shellfish alternative makes sense. The introduction also couldn’t be more timely as the new year has many people, including Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Gordon Ramsay, giving veganism a try.
This isn’t the first time Trader Joe’s has launched a jackfruit product. In December 2017, the grocery chain began selling a frozen Yellow Jackfruit Curry with Jasmine Rice meal. Trader Joe’s introduced yet another jackfruit item in March 2018 with the rollout of canned Green Jackfruit in Brine, which thanks to the fruit’s meaty texture and ability to absorb flavor, TJ’s suggests using as a meat substitute prepared with various sauces.
Despite Trader Joe’s having previously dipped its toes into the jackfruit pool, the ingredient has yet to really blow up. It has been named as a potential food trend especially among vegans and vegetarians over the past few years, but has never managed to push its way onto mainstream menus. 2019, however, could finally be the year that jackfruit reaches the trendy status of, say, cauliflower. A few weeks back, Whole Foods actually mentioned the fruit on its top 10 food trends for 2019 list under the Pacific Rim Flavors category and highlighted its 365 Everyday Value Pacific Rim Dried Mixed Fruit with Jackfruit and Guava product.
With two popular and ubiquitous grocery chains on board with jackfruit — one using its as the star ingredient of its very first new product of the year and one naming it on its annual food trends list — 2019 may very well be the meaty and adaptable fruit’s year.