The Breadfruit Institute is a research partner based in Kaua'i.
For thousands of years, breadfruit has been a staple crop in the Pacific Islands. Today, it’s helping solve some of the most urgent problems we face—climate change, depleted soils, economic insecurity, malnutrition and hunger—all at the same time. Breadfruit is most often eaten as a starch and smells like freshly baked bread when cooked, hence the name. This amazing, gluten-free food is the main ingredient in our savory breadfruit crackers.
The Nutritious, Gluten-Free Breadfruit
Depending on when it’s picked, breadfruit can taste like an artichoke, a flavorful potato or a soft, sweet bread. Like rice and potatoes, it’s gluten-free, expanding the options for people who don’t eat gluten. Also, breadfruit has distinct dietary benefits that other staple starches don’t have. And it can be milled into a versatile, gluten-free flour.
Food and Income Where They’re Needed Most
Breadfruit trees are absurdly productive, yielding up to 800 pounds of nutritious food per tree, every year, for 50 years or more. They grow best in tropical and subtropical areas, where, according to the Global Hunger Initiative, more than 80% of the world’s hungriest people live. The trees have huge potential to provide food and give farmers reliable income.
Combats Climate Crisis
Breadfruit trees have large, broad leaves that efficiently draw down carbon dioxide. They’re traditionally planted in agroforests—farms that intercrop plants of varying heights, which together pull down even more carbon. The trees can thrive in places most impacted by the effects of climate change. They grow fast, quickly reforesting areas ruined by hurricanes or plantation agriculture, and they restore the health of depleted soils.
Photo by Jim Wiseman
Photo by Jim Wiseman
Guardians of Breadfruit
Traditional wisdom and knowledge—combined with modern science—is reviving a lost food source, one our planet needs now more than ever.
A Brief but Amazing History of Breadfruit
Breadfruit originated in the Pacific thousands of years ago, becoming a cornerstone of the cultures that flourished there. Over time, mariners carried it to tropical regions around the world, enhancing their food systems and enriching their soil (Captain Bligh, of the ill-fated Bounty, was responsible for bringing breadfruit to Jamaica). Modern plantation-style agriculture steadily wiped out traditional breadfruit agroforests, though, and only recently has the alarm gone off. Now there’s widespread, urgent recognition of breadfruit’s gifts, and a great interest in planting the trees in agroforests once again.
From Fruit to Flour: Our Supply Chain
We wanted to create a strong market for this fruit to increase its cultivation and expand the benefits it brings to humans and the planet. But once picked, breadfruit ripens fast—it can go from firm and starchy to custardlike in as little as a day. Our solution? Breadfruit flour, which is long-lasting and lends itself to creating many different products, including our new Breadfruit Cracker.
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Based in Costa Rica, Jungle Foods is our sourcing partner for breadfruit, which they process into flour that's used in our Breadfruit Crackers.
“Engage with humility, embrace with respect, sustain with aloha.”
Sometime before 3,000 B.C., ocean explorers from the South Pacific and what’s now Taiwan set out across the Pacific to settle new lands, and breadfruit saplings went with them.
Eaten as a starchy staple, the fruit is gluten free and easily milled into flour.