Cornell Students’ Vegan Jerky Vying for $4K Cash Prize

Student food innovators at the prestigious university will be one of six finalists competing in a Sin City product development contest for their jackfruit-based vegan jerky.


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A team of student food scientists from Cornell University have been chosen as one of six finalists in this year’s Institute of Food Technologists’ (IFT) Student Association & Mars Product Development competition held in Las Vegas, NV. The students, led by co-captains Brandon Yep and Jessica Kwong, developed Jack’d Jerky—a vegan jerky made from shredded jackfruit and a blend of pea protein, tomatoes, and herbs. “It’s a refreshing reprieve from the salt- and sugar-laden meat jerky currently on the market,” Kwong said. “It’s better for you than traditional jerky, all without sacrificing the flavor and texture.” The students chose to use jackfruit due to its ability to mimic meat and for its nutritional profile. “We wanted to use jackfruit as the basis of our jerky and position it not only toward those who eat jerky,” Yep said, “but also [to] vegans and people who eat gluten-free foods.” The 27th annual competition—which tasks students to carry their products from development to marketing and production—takes place from June 25 to 28, and first place winning teams will receive a $4,000 cash prize.

Photo courtesy of Cornell Chronicle