But it is an export item now and set to appear in platter in eateries in Iceland, where a chain super-shop – Iceland Superstore – has ordered for 4 lakh pieces of jackfruit burger from Bangladesh, officials at the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) have said.
The state-owned umbrella organisation for small rural ventures hopes that the processed fruit dish will be popular among the vegan population across the globe.
Food scientists are also upbeat about the future prospect of the burger from fibrous rags inside jackfruits, a result of their research for value-added recipes from seasonal fruits.
Their success in food laboratories has prompted the PKSF to promote commercial production of fruit recipes with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development, which is providing a $129 million loan under its Promoting Agricultural Commercialisation and Enterprises project.
Jackfruit burger is one of the small-scale projects to be implemented under the UN agency-aided project.
The Centre for Development Innovation and Practices (CDIP), an NGO established in 1995, is implementing the project which has received an investment of Tk1.89 crore, with the PKSF providing Tk1.44 crore and the CDIP providing the rest.
CDIP Executive Director Mifta Naim Huda said the PKSF is financing the jackfruit burger factory and helping to secure export orders from Iceland. The Icelandic company will visit the factory.
The Bangladesh Council of Scientific Research has already examined the food value of jackfruit burgers. According to their study, per 100g of jackfruit patties contain 9.78g of carbohydrates, 10.87g of protein, 8.47g of fat, 19.32g of dietary fibre and 159 kcal of energy.
PKSF Additional Managing Director Md Fazlul Kader said jackfruit patties are comparable to meat in terms of taste, smell, and juiciness. The global demand for vegetarian food is growing, and the sector has significant export potential.
"The Icelandic superstore has already placed orders to import jackfruit burgers from Bangladesh. Efforts are underway to promote jackfruit burgers in both the global and local markets," he added.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh produces around 19 lakh tonnes of jackfruit annually. By utilising this production capacity, the country can diversify jackfruit products and market them throughout the year.
The PKSF has been on a mission to develop entrepreneurs in processed fruit recipes with training from the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute and ministries of commerce and women affairs. Many such entrepreneurs have already started business through online platforms.
Dr Md Golam Ferdous, senior scientific officer and food technologist of the Agricultural Research Institute's Post Harvest Technology Division, told The Business Standard, "With our intervention, the value addition can be doubled in any fruit or vegetable. But, in the case of jackfruit, the value addition can be manifold.
"Jackfruit is rich in nutrients including antioxidants. The caloric value of jackfruit is very high. It has a lot of fibre."
He also said BARI scientists have shown that raw jackfruit can be used to make a wide range of other products, including sandwiches, rolls, cutlets, singaras, samosas, juice, custard, cake, and ice cream. There is a large potential market for jackfruit products, both domestically and internationally."
He further said McDonald's is manufacturing jackfruit burgers in the USA despite the fact that the fruit is not very common in the country.
Jackfruit items are also being tried in some other food outlets in the USA, including mainstream groceries and gourmet food markets like Fry's Food Stores and Fine Foods, who rely on Mexican jackfruits for their dishes like jackfruit barbecue, ricotta-stuffed jackfruit with cinnamon – items appearing in restaurant menus driven by vegan demand and curiosity for low-protein healthy foods.
PKSF and CDIP officials said the burger patty is made with 58% jackfruit, 20% flour-corn flour mixture, and 22% other ingredients, such as onion, ginger, coriander leaves, curry powder, and chilli powder.
Md Fazlul Kader said jackfruit can also be used to produce other food items and medicine ingredients.
He noted that the PKSF has already produced jackfruit juice on an experimental basis and that jackfruit biryani is popular in Myanmar. He also highlighted the potential of jackfruit skin as cattle fodder.
He further said the PKSF is also working on other products from fruits grown in Bangladesh such as pineapple, tomato, carrot and guava.