With its crispy pork skin, juicy meat, and savory sauce – Filipinos carved a place for lechon to be a highlight in every community and holiday celebration. This product creates hefty business opportunities, most especially to small business owners or the local lechoneros. Post-holiday woes, however, include the subject of income loss due to food waste.
The pandemic also brought additional burden to many Micro-to-Small-Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as they needed to adapt and change products and mode of business transactions to comply with health and travel restrictions.
Finding solutions to the problems of private companies and MSMEs through research and development (R&D) is the objective of the Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (CRADLE) Program of the Department of Science and Technology. Through the 1st CRADLE Symposium held last Tuesday, January 18, 2022, research collaborations and technologies related to food and nutrition innovations were showcased.
Entitled “DOST-CRADLE’s Science Kusina - Innovative breakthroughs in food technology, health and nutrition: Sarap at Sustansya, mula sa agham at teknolohiya ng DOST CRADLE”, the event presented breakthrough technologies such as longer-shelf life for lechon, deriving additional nutrients from pineapples, locally formulated vegan sausages, and potential health and nutrition benefits from marine species.
“DOST-CRADLE enables industry members to pandemic-proof their business by solving the problem through R&D,” says DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina L. Guevara. “Innovation is the key for our private companies to sustain their business performance, despite the challenges brought about by restrictions in health and travel.”
The Tacloban City Litson Industry Association (TACLIYA), a group of twenty-four (24) micro entrepreneurs, experiences an average excess of 30 kg of lechon produced every day, which even surges up to 200 kg during off peak season. Through the DOST-CRADLE Program, TACLIYA partnered with the Eastern Visayas Food Innovation Center (EVFIC) and the Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU). The EVFIC works to reprocess the excess lechon into shelf-stable products such as "Lechon Paksiw de Leyte" that can provide potential for expansion of their existing market. The products will be processed through acidification and retort technology which is available at the EVFIC. These are also seen to serve as emergency food in times of calamities in the region.
Another breakthrough is the partnership between the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and the Banawe Soybean Corporation. In view of the company’s commitment for environmental protection and waste management, they used R&D to address food waste generated from soymilk and tofu processing called okara. This product contains high amounts of protein and fiber that can help prevent diseases such as diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and obesity. It is also known to have high antioxidant content and prebiotic benefits. The study will develop gluten-free, vegan sausages from okara.
Del Monte Philippines and the University of San Agustin will also address agricultural waste from pineapples. Del Monte faces the problem of waste amounting to 1 million metric tons a year, from pineapple stems and core which are brimming with nutrients. These nutrients are in the form of pineapple metabolites that have bromelain-like properties which include hypocholesterolemic effects and lipase activities that can be extracted through metabolomics. Extracted compounds from waste plant parts will be developed into high-value products such as functional food ingredients and dietary supplements in foods and beverages which produce desired health benefits.
The partnership of Pascual Pharma Corporation and University of the Philippines-Visayas will address generating better foods for better survival and therapy, particularly to those who are afflicted with disease (especially chronic or terminal diseases). The project will create foods that are easy to digest, appropriate for recovery and will increase immune system responses. The project will use bioavailable proteins and bioactive peptides from low-cost fish species. These peptides can be used as a component of low-cost adjunct therapies for post-surgery patients and other persons with health dysfunctions. There will also be commercial value as this study explores mixing the extracted fish proteins and peptides in beverages.
For companies who are also seeking to explore the benefits of the DOST CRADLE Program, you may contact the DOST-Science for Change Project Management Office at 2/F ADMATEL Bldg., DOST Compound, Gen. Santos Ave., Bicutan, Taguig City, with telephone numbers (02) 8837-2943/ 8837-2930. You may also send an email firstname.lastname@example.org.