It is not every day that a successful criminal lawyer, gives it all up to follow his heart and become an entrepreneur. Sairaj Dhond is clearly an exception. Wakao Foods, a Goa-based sustainable food brand, launching its very first jackfruit meat offering, thus came into being.
Sairaj elaborates, “I commenced my career by practicing criminal law but soon learned that this was not where my heart was. Coming from a family who has their own business, it did not take long for me to realize that entrepreneurship runs in my DNA. However, instead of joining the family business of real estate and tourism, I wanted to branch out to the food & beverage industry and do something of my own.”Sairaj was clear that he wanted to create a better tomorrow with products that are curated from ethically grown, sourced produce and are then hygienically processed and packaged.
He elaborates, “Jackfruit is grown right here in our backyard in Goa and we want to take this nutritional fruit and make optimal use of its versatility. After a lot of meticulous research and planning, we are super excited to pioneer the jackfruit meat phenomena in the country.” He further adds, “When I started doing my research, I realized that the food sector needs a conscious upgrade. That’s when I studied the concept of superfoods and started looking for a product that is closer to home. Jackfruit came naturally to me since it grows in my backyard and has a high nutritional value. I was later on exposed to veganism and the humble jackfruit fit right in. Despite being a non-vegetarian since birth, when I tried jackfruit, I came to the realization that its texture and ability to adapt flavors were quite like meat itself. The concept of jackfruit meat had already gained its popularity in the West, and it was about time that Indians were introduced to a unique variant of mock meat.”
During the pandemic, he noticed the change in people’s mindset towards plant-based meat. People became more open to trying new things and wanting to adapt to a healthy lifestyle. According to Sairaj, the existing alternatives for meat have been soya chunks and mushrooms for vegans, and cottage cheese for vegetarians. Being the new entrant into the industry, Jackfruit is making waves because of its meat-like texture and versatility. It is low in calories, fat and carbs as well, making it naturally acceptable by all.
Committed to supporting indigenous agricultural practices, Dhond ensures fair pricing for farmers. The company is tirelessly working towards the welfare of these communities through their ‘friends of farmers’ initiative with the farmers across South India, and one percent of their sales proceeds are donated to local farmers around India who are working to feed the country.
A perfect example of taste plus health, the wide range of the Wakao Jack Meat is curated to suit different tastes, from meat lovers to fitness enthusiasts, there is something for everyone. The ready-to-cook variety includes Raw Jack, which can be used as a meat substitute in any recipe for a decadent vegan alternative and Jack Burger Patty, which makes cheat meals healthy in a never-before avatar. The ready-to-eat variety includes the Teriyaki Jack, which is perfectly paired with a slider or as a Frankie to enhance its flavors; the BBQ Jack, that makes for a mouth-watering filling for wraps and the Butter Jack, which is the go-to choice to whip up a quick meal along with a side of some steamed rice.