How he ventured from safe water to rice and mongo snacks constituted sense, timing and luck. It started when some people in emergency situation asked him, “You already have water that’s useful during emergency situation, why not food?”
“I’ve pondered on it and figured, why not?” Racky D. Doctor, president of Nutridense Food Manufacturing Corporation (NFMC), reveals.
Eventually, an opportunity came when the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI) conducted a forum on complementary food and he was among the invited. He showed up and that began his passion for good food.
NFMC is the company behind the healthy snacks, such as RIMO Curls, RIMO Blend, Micronutrient Growth Mix, Brown Rice Bar, Iron-fortified rice and Momsie. These products were developed to address the malnutrition problem among Filipino children, especially those below five years old.
“There are other players in the complementary food industry. But what sets apart our product is that it has a seal of FNRI, and that counts a lot, when your product ranks high in terms of efficacy,” says Doctor, who joked that he’s been a doctor since birth, carrying such a family name.
Healthy food continues to gain popularity, what with the country’s rate in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. But this is mostly for adults. However, for the children, one of the biggest challengesis still malnutrition. The 8th National Nutrition Survey (NNS) cited that the number of Filipino children aged 0-5 who are “wasted” – too thin for their height – even increased from 6.9 percent in 2008 to 7.9 percent in 2013.
Beginning: From pharma to food
Racky Doctor and his family have always been in business-- initially in the pharmaceutical industry before branching out to healthy food products. During the acute gastroenteritis outbreak in 2004, the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced a water disinfectant for communities affected by said outbreak. It was by some luck that no such product was then available in the local market.
WHO called upon interested parties who can manufacture the said product for the local market. Of the five interested, Racky Doctor was chosen. His company, the LongLive Pharma produced the Hyposol, a water treatment product.WHO and the Department of Health (DOH) endorsed Hyposol in calamity and outbreak infected areas.
Understanding the big picture
Doctor first became a client of DOST through its other program, the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP), as a recipient of an equipment assistance. Being a beneficiary, he got invited to some enterprise-related forums, including one that featured complementary food.
He used to have a limited view of healthy and complementary food. Now he is grateful for the opportunity to learn about it in the FNRI’s forum.
“After attending the FNRI’s forum, I was able to see the bigger picture. I thought I was merely embarking on good food, but it is bigger than that; that of a national problem – the malnutrition,” says Doctor.
Fighting malnutrition has become their family’s advocacy. The rate of malnutrition is quite high and he believes that somebody has to do something, especially for the children in rural areas.
“While doing something about it, we can make it a business after all. So magandang impact. You do business and create an impact to the community,” says Doctor.
They have initially invested over Php 8 million to their food business with the help of seven to nine production people, plus four administrative personnel. Today, they have increased their production people to 37 and 13 office staff.
“Initially, we producedRimo Curls under LongLive Pharma but it was awkward to have medicine and food together, so we opened NFMC in 2014 which solely caters to the manufacture of our food products,” Doctor explains.
While there are other brands which manufacture complementary food, NFMC is the only one currently in the local market which produces iron-fortified rice kernel. They also supply iron-fortified rice in many parts of the country.
Challenge and expansion
While NFMC is complete in terms of equipment and the company can easily call on other workers in the community in case of increase in demand, what the company needs now is a bigger space. This is the reason why NMFChas an ongoing plant expansion-- in anticipation of bigger demands for its products in the near future.
The company’s production people are also undergoing training with for Good Manufacturing Practices with Technology Application and Promotion Institute of DOST.The company also availed of support from the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology, Research and Development in terms of market links.
Doctor sees the possibility of processing mangoes from Pangasinan instead of importing the fruits from Cebu. This way, more folks from his community will be employed.
Doctor is grateful for the collaborative support he’s been getting from DOST and its different agencies. He believes that he will not be in the food business if not for FNRI that gave him the idea and has been helping him with product development since 2013, when his company manufactured Rimo Curls.
FNRI has been tapped not only by the government but also by large food manufacturing companies for research and technology assistance. Their R&D and services also benefit entrepreneurs, especially those in the food business. Some of their services are technology commercialization and transfer, food pilot plant services/technologies business incubator, food processing facility development in the regions, food analytical testing services and many others. For details on their services, visit http://www.fnri.dost.gov.ph/. (By Geraldine Bulaon-Ducusin, S&T Media Service. Photos by Henry A. de Leon)
RIMO Curls: This is an extruded snack food made from a blend of rice flour and mongo flour. It contains 130 kcal of energy and 4 grams of protein per 30 grams, enough to meet 12.1% of recommended energy and 14.3% of recommended protein intake of 1 to 3 year old children.
RIMO Blend: Ready-to-eat by adding previously boiled water, which is recommended for supplemental feeding program because of its energy and protein content, for children 6 months to less than 23 months old.
Brown Rice Fruity Bar: The main ingredient is brown rice, in which two packs of 25 grams provides minerals & vitamins such as phosphorus, iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, vitamin B1 and vitamin B2.