A new, limited-edition hummus variety will be available through October from Sabra Dipping Company. Sweet & Smoky BBQ Hummus with Jackfruit and Smoked Paprika — made with shredded barbecue jackfruit, a popular meat alternative — is arriving in stores this month and will be in grocery deli sections and supermarkets across the country, the company announced.
Sabra said jackfruit's popularity is growing because of its sweet flavor and unique texture, and that the new hummus variety provides a way to enjoy the sweet and smoky taste in a plant-based and vegan product.
"We relied heavily on influencer input and the conversations food enthusiasts are having online to inspire this delicious limited-edition variety," Ryan Saghir, Sabra's digital marketing director, said in a release. "We are thrilled to bring a plant-based hummus with the delicious flavors of BBQ to the table and look forward to hearing feedback both online and offline."
Jackfruit has occupied a popular space in niche markets for the past few years and is edging closer to mainstream acceptance. It is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, and each one can grow to more than 80 pounds on trees native to South and East Asia. When ripe, jackfruit tastes very fruity, but when it's not ripe, the pale and fibrous flesh can be used as a convincing meat substitute. Last year, Pinterest saw a 420% rise in jackfruit interest among users, reflecting growing consumer demand for meat substitutes that deliver a similar texture and flavor to the real thing.
For a well-known producer of dips and salsas like Sabra — which claims to control 60% of the U.S. hummus market — to incorporate jackfruit into a limited-edition product may mean that jackfruit is finally entering the mainstream food market. But since the new hummus variety is only being made available for a few months, the company isn't taking a huge risk if consumers find the ingredient mix a little too strange for their liking.
The company, a 50/50 joint venture between PepsiCo and Israel's Strauss Group, has seen sales rebound after a November 2016 recall of hummus and spreads for possible listeria contamination. Yet even a market leader can't take anything for granted in an increasingly competitive marketplace. If its new jackfruit hummus performs well, this could signal that consumers are ready for more adventurous flavors from the category and could point to a new path to growth.
Jackfruit is likely to crop up in more products in the near future as its profile increases and consumers become more aware of its versatility. It offers a significant amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber, has no cholesterol and almost no fat. And, if Sabra sees sales growth with its hummus variety containing jackfruit, there could be more large food companies incorporating it into their products as well.