BALTIMORE — Meet the jackfruit, an emerging “it” ingredient in the natural and organic marketplace. High in fiber and low in calories, this large Southeast Asian tree fruit has a texture likened to that of pulled pork, and at least two companies at Natural Product Expo East are offering it in packaged, ready-to-eat formats.

The demand for plant-based nutrition has given rise to creative new alternatives to animal protein, said Jenna Blumenfeld, food editor for New Hope Natural Media, which produces Expo East, held Sept. 16-19 in Baltimore. In an interview with Food Business News prior to the event, Ms. Blumenfeld identified several new product trends on display at this year’s show.

“Overarching trends that we’re going to see is this continued idea of superfoods and clean label,” Ms. Blumenfeld said. “I also think plant-based protein is definitely going to show up a lot, and that includes seitan, tofu and more traditional plant-based items, but also some of this new ‘green tech’…which takes apart all of these different compounds in plants and reorganizes them to create a product that’s like mayonnaise or the best veggie burger you’ve ever had. Those products are really trying to perfectly replicate what meat is or what animal-based products are.”

And then there’s jackfruit, which offers an allergen-friendly, vegan option for shredded meat in tacos, sandwiches, stir-fries or salads. Chicago-based Upton’s Naturals produces barbecue and chili lime varieties of seasoned jackfruit. The Jackfruit Co., Cambridge, Mass., offers packaged young jackfruit in barbecue, Tex-Mex, curry and sesame ginger flavors. The latter company was founded on the mission to convert jackfruit waste into nutritious food and improve the livelihoods of farmers in India. The message is consistent with another top trend at the show, Ms. Blumenfeld noted, which is an emphasis on reducing packaging and food waste.

Drawing 22,000 attendees this year, Expo East highlights the latest trends and products from more than 1,800 exhibitors in the natural and organic marketplace.

Click for a slideshow of more trends at Expo East.