Episode 177: Dan Riegler
Meat replacements in a plant-based society typically aren’t necessarily what they are cut out to be. As we try to eat better, we still want to enjoy the flavors we have become accustomed to. Processed meat replacements are either clearly not the same texture, or filled with ingredients that completely take away the benefits of not eating meat in the first place. Whole food product company KARANA is providing jackfruit ingredient options for those that are looking for a healthier, and tastier alternative.
Despite spending most of his career in finance and consulting, KARANA Co-Founder Dan Riegler had a drive for food and a passion about sustainability. The combination of the two led to him exploring agriculture projects, particularly in food production. After seeing issues in supply chains, he wanted to create a company focused on making positive change in the food industry. To do that, he needed to find ingredients and food products that aligned with his core values. Being a carnivore most of his life, Dan already had an understanding and appreciation of food but ventured more towards wanting to combine values of sustainability with healthier options. It was then that his focus turned to the jackfruit.
“We were looking around for ingredients and crops that both would have a positive impact on the food system and especially the farmers” – Dan Riegler (06:14 – 06:22)
Although the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, and an extremely popular meat replacement, Dan says the commercialization of it hasn’t been done very effectively. Upon his research he discovered that jackfruit is actually an extremely low maintenance crop and that farmers were actually using it as a crop to shade other crops such as peppers. Because of this, upwards of 60-70% of jackfruit was going to waste. This was a product and potential profit to farmers going down the drain. By spending more time focusing on the supply chain, these farmers are able to make more money, while companies like KARANA can begin to use jackfruit to create its products.
By using the jackfruit in its younger maturity stage, KARANA is able to handle the crop easier because the sugars in the fruit have yet to be formed. While it’s technically still a fruit, at this stage it’s more like a vegetable. Therefore, using it as an ingredient yields less sugar. Along with that, KARANA is using the whole plant to make for a more sustainable ingredient.
Right now, KARANA focuses their jackfruit meat replacement products primarily with food services, providing to chefs in Singapore and Hong Kong. The versatility of jackfruit gives these talented chefs endless opportunities to then go on to create dishes specifically around their respective restaurant.
The innovation isn’t limited to high scale restaurants. While their offerings right now are primarily shredded pulled “pork” and ground “pork”, KARANA is currently working on its first retail product to bring jackfruit options to your home in the form of dishes like dumplings and dim sum.
Jackfruit may be the staple of the company right now, but Dan and KARANA are always looking at more diverse options of what we as consumers eat and how they can introduce ingredients in different ways. They’re also hoping to release products to the United States within the next year.
How to get involved
- Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week!
- Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here.
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Previous episodes you may enjoy
- Episode 176: Jason Rosenbaum And Hailey Swartz
- Episode 175: Kassie Grasmanis and Andrew VanTil
- Episode 174: Josh Schroeter
- Episode 173: Natalie Mariani Kling
- Episode 172: Drew and Chelsea Ketelsen