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Breadfruit: An Upcycled Superfood of the Future

By Sophia Busam

Breadfruit is a fun, flavorful, nutritious, and eco-friendly ingredient gaining traction in culinary circles worldwide. A recent study from Northwestern even suggests that it might be the climate resilient superfood of the future! Despite its name, breadfruit plays a culinary role more similar to a potato due to its starchiness. It’s also one of the only fruits that has culinary applications at any stage of its development. Talk about multi-functional!

Where Does Breadfruit Come From?

Breadfruit trees originated in New Guinea and the Indo-Malay region. Today, they are a traditional staple crop in places like the Pacific Islands1. The trees can live for decades and require less water compared to other staple crops.2 Each tree provides about 250 fruits each per year3. They are also a notable symbol of food security since they can provide a single family with food for generations.4 Moreover, a recent study showed that extreme heat has little to no impact on breadfruit yields, making it an extremely important food of the future. Better yet, because breadfruits are seedless fruits, they have little to no likelihood of becoming invasive when introduced to new environments. If that isn’t enough to excite you, they are perennial trees, which means they require less labor/energy inputs and sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over their lifetimes.

What is Breadfruit Flour?

Breadfruit has a short shelf life because of its high respiration rate once stored. This prevents it from being exported to non-tropical regions. One study found that 60-80% of breadfruit produced in southwestern Nigeria is wasted because of deterioration or lack of use.5 Another study found that Hawaiian breadfruit is largely accessed and consumed from nontraditional consumption channels, with backyard trees being the primary source.6 By creating value-added products from breadfruit, the fruit can reach a wider consumer population and gain more mainstream adoption.

Breadfruit flour creates new opportunity by creating a new product from the dried and ground fruit. The result is a longer shelf life of the fruit, enabling global export. Here at Upcycled Foods, Inc., we are working with a network of farmers to support the upcycling of surplus or underutilized breadfruit, while also helping you make nutritious and delicious products. Increased adoption of upcycled breadfruit helps reduce food waste and supports local economies in the Pacific Islands. Breadfruit flour is extremely versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes from baking, thickening sauces, gluten-free pastas, breads, and more. Since its approval for sale in the US by the FDA in 2016, interest in and popularity of the product has expanded exponentially.7

Is Breadfruit Flour Nutritious?

Breadfruit flour is high in fiber, vitamin c, potassium, and magnesium. Its nutrient density makes it the ideal superfood substitute for wheat flour and rice.8 Better yet, it’s a great option for those with dietary restrictions since it’s gluten free. It’s also low on the glycemic index compared to white potatoes, white rice, white bread and taro.9 By replacing your grain consumption with breadfruit flour, you can meet up to 57% of your daily fiber requirement and 34% of your daily protein requirement.10

What Does the Future of Breadfruit Look Like?

Consumers have indicated a growing demand for functional foods in 2024.11 As a highly-nutritious superfood with complex carbohydrates and fiber, it has significant potential to become a mainstream staple ingredient, especially within the growing market for alternative flours and sustainable ingredients. Its climate resilient nature also makes it a critical crop of the future to ensure global food security, especially as more traditional crops like rice, potatoes, and corn face growing climate challenges. A great example of how breadfruit flour is being used today is Amasar’s pancake and waffle mix. It is the perfect gluten free, healthy alternative for some of your favorite breakfast foods.

Amasar’s Pancake and Waffle Mix

Breadfruit Baking and Beyond

Overall, breadfruit is a nutritious ingredient that has a promising role in promoting sustainability and combating food waste when converted into flour. The next time you think about making some pie crust, pasta, or pancakes, try substituting your usual flour with some breadfruit flour.

Interested in learning more about how you can incorporate breadfruit flour in one of your products? Reach out to us here!

Sources

  1. https://ntbg.org/breadfruit/about-breadfruit/history/#:~:text=Breadfruit%20originated%20in%20New%20Guinea,breadfruit%20in%20the%20late%201500s ↩︎
  2. https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2022/08/climate-resilient-breadfruit-might-be-the-food-of-the-future/#:~:text=According%20to%20Zerega%2C%20once%20established,longer%20than%20other%20staple%20crops ↩︎
  3. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/08/09/487094806/productive-protein-rich-breadfruit-could-help-the-worlds-hungry-tropics ↩︎
  4. Ibid ↩︎
  5. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/star.19950470802 ↩︎
  6. https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/18/4983 ↩︎
  7. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/08/09/487094806/productive-protein-rich-breadfruit-could-help-the-worlds-hungry-tropics ↩︎
  8. https://hdoa.hawaii.gov/add/files/2014/05/Breadfruit-Nutrition-Fact-Sheet.pdf ↩︎
  9. https://www.forbes.com/sites/daphneewingchow/2023/09/30/breadfruit-is-a-climate-smart-superfood-with-global-appeal/?sh=17f85b9727e6 ↩︎
  10. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200917/Breadfruit-flour-found-to-be-a-healthy-alternative-to-other-starches-for-modern-foods.aspx#:~:text=The%20researchers%20determined%20that%20breadfruit,than%20standard%20diet%2Dfed%20mice ↩︎
  11. https://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Article/2024/01/02/2024-trends-to-watch-from-functional-foods-and-clean-label-to-value-hunting-and-increased-use-of-ai-to-drive-promotions-and-efficiencies ↩︎
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