With the result of the recent awards organized by DOST’sIndustrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) with support of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), the DOST’s Food Innovation Centers (FICs)  may be the newest places to hunt for newly-developed innovative and nutritious food products.

Recently, DOST’s ITDI and PCIEERD recognized the Most Innovative Products developed from the Food Innovation Centers (FIC)technologies and came up with exciting new products developed using in-house equipment such as water retort, vacuum fryer, spray dryer, and freeze dryer.

The award is part of DOST’s program in developing the competence of FIC managers and technical personnel, particularly in product development and innovation. The DOST aims to achieve this by providing more detailed training on important aspects of food processing such as product development, food safety and regulations, food packaging, nutrition labeling, product costing, and marketing strategies.

"We have done a project on building up the confidence of our personnel in the FICs. As such, we would like to culminate this project by looking at the competence of our personnel in terms of their development of prototypes which we would find most innovative,” said Dr. Maria Patricia Azanza, DOST-ITDI director, after the initial screening which came up with five food products from each technology.

The finalists were further tested in terms of the innovativeness, market viability, consumer acceptability, and soundness of process. Judges came from the academe, public and private organizations and institutions.

The winners

For the Most Innovative Products for Water Retort Technology, Tea Tums,developed by students and professors of the University of the Philippines Diliman, got the title. These are healthy ready-to-drink juices made from lemongrass, calamansi blend infused with turmeric,and ginger. All ingredients areknown to have potential health benefits. Cagayan State University-Carig Campus placed second in this category through Uved, a traditional Ivatan food made from banana roots. The product is attractive to health-conscious consumers and travelers. It is also developed with a longer shelf-life so tourists visiting Batanes can buy it as pasalubong.

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Region IIbagged awards under the freeze drying technology: Gracilaria won as the Most Innovative Product, while Arius got the second place. Gracilariais a kind of seaweed mass produced in Buguey, Cagayan that can be used as flavoring or processed as seaweed chips. Arius, on the other hand, is a tree that can grow anywhere in the Philippines but can only bear fruit in Batanes due to climate conditions. Its fruit gives off natural food colorants that can substitute imported berries. 

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For spray-dried products, Sea Grapes Powderor lato of the Zamboanga State College of Marine Science and Technology in Region IX nabbed the Most Innovative Product. It claims to have natural salty, peppery taste which can be used as flavoring for chips, noodles, and baked products. Also, it can be mixed with beverages. Bukolyte, developed by the Philippine Women’s College-Davao in Region XI,thengot the second place inthis category. Bukolyte is powdered form of the coconut water with no artificial flavor and preservatives added made from young coconuts. 

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Lastly, the Most Innovative Product for vacuum frying technologywent toCrispy Sprouted Monggo of Region II which claims to contain more nutrients compared with ordinary monggo. It can provide energyand help strengthen the immune system of lactating or pregnant women. Fried Mayahini or barinday of Eastern Visayas State University in Region VIIIwas awarded as the second Most Innovative Product for this category. In the process of frying, Fried Mayahini retains its natural and nutritional qualities, thus it can be an alternative to unhealthy chips available in the market.         

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For the special awards, Region II received the “FIC with the Most Number of Qualifying Products” with their seven food product entries. Another special award, the “Industry Choice Award”, is given to Regions II and IX for Crispy Sprouted Monggo and Sea Grapes Powder, respectively. This award recognizes product/s that scored high in the following criteria: novelty, consumer appeal, manufacturing feasibility, and can be priced competitively.

The Challenge

Commercialization of these food products poses the biggest challenge after the awarding ceremonies. Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development recognizes this challenge in her closing message. To the judges, she says that they can do much in helping promote these food products as they came from different sectors of the society.
“I believe that we have the products to make the Philippines food secure. Making these available, affordable, and accessible will only happen if we have the FICs," said Dr. Guevara.

What are FICs?

Food Innovation Centers were developed in 2015 housing five DOST-developed technologies, namely: vacuum packaging machine, water retort, vacuum fryer, spray dryer, and freeze dryer. The spray dryer transforms liquids into powder instantly, while the freeze dryer produces dried materials but prolongs shelf life and enables a more convenient way of transporting these materials. The water retort machine improves shelf-life of food products even in non-refrigerated conditions, and the vacuum fryer creates crunchy products that are low in fat and high in fiber with minimal changes in color and flavor.

As of 2016, DOST has established 10 FICs nationwide located at the NCR and in Regions 2, 4B, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 with the main FIC located at ITDI, DOST Compound. FICs are open to scientists, technologists, and academicians who are in need of the said technologies.

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