DOST-MIMAROPA INAUGURATES THE FOOD INNOVATION CENTER
by Patricia O. Calora, DOST – MIMAROPA Regional Office
Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro – The Department of Science and Technology, in partnership with the Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology (MinSCAT), formally launched the MIMAROPA Food Innovation Center (FIC) through an inauguration ceremony held last October 14, 2016.
Located in the Calapan City Campus of MinSCAT, the MIMAROPA FIC is a research and development (R&D) facility for the creation of new and innovative products capable of penetrating both the local and international markets. It is expected to maximize the value-added potential of the region’s agricultural and marine products such as coconut, banana, cashew, palay, corn, calamansi, mango, and seaweeds. According to DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Director, Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay, the main purpose of the FIC is to strengthen the competitiveness of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the local food industry through the use of innovative technology. “The establishment of the Food Innovation Center will accommodate actors in the region’s food value chain – producers, processors, marketers, and entrepreneurs. It will provide them with access to DOST-developed technologies and enhance their capabilities in order to create innovative food products or processes which are locally and globally competitive,” she said during the opening program.
The major equipment housed in the facility are the vacuum-fryer, spray-dryer, and water retort, with adjunct equipment like freezers, dryers, and packaging machines. These locally developed technologies will allow for the creation of products with better taste and texture, and that are shelf-stable even in non-refrigerated conditions. Those engaged in the local food industry can use these food technologies to add value to local commodities or crops abundant in the region.
In his keynote address, DOST Secretary Prof. Fortunato T. Dela Peña emphasized the importance of R&D and delivering its results in improving the lives of communities – the FIC being an example. In line with this, he also suggested the possibility of MIMAROPA having an innovation facility specifically for healthcare products and bamboo furniture, which will pave the way towards enabling the indigenous people of the region.
Throughout the opening program, innovation as a means to help communities was a recurring theme. Gov. Alfonso V. Umali Jr. echoed these thoughts as he reiterated the value of science and technology in the everyday lives of people. He encouraged everyone to embrace innovation as a way to usher in development, especially in the MIMAROPA region. Atty. Jojo Perez, who represented Rep. Paulino Salvador Leachon of the 1st district of the province, delivered the message of continued support for DOST-MIMAROPA’s S&T initiatives, which benefit the people of MIMAROPA.
As the program came to a close, Gov. Umali was named as one of DOST-MIMAROPA’s Science Ambassadors, and given a plaque of recognition for his invaluable support to S&T-based programs and initiatives in his province. Likewise, the same plaque was also awarded to Rep. Leachon for his extra efforts in the furtherance of S&T undertakings and programs in the province.
The FIC was then formally launched with blessings from Rev. Fr. Simplicio A. Bonquin and ribbon-cutting by Secretary Dela Peña and Gov. Umali. Those who attended the event were able to try vacuum-fried and spray-dried products developed from the FIC. Product samples included vacuum fried banana, kalabasa (pumpkin), biya (goby fish), and trail mix (banana, sweet potato, purple yam, and jackfruit); and spray-dried baroy (clam) extract, guyabano leaf extract, and nipa sugar. Following this was an FIC Technology and Value-adding Demonstration where the FIC personnel showed how each of the technologies in the FIC worked.
One of these technologies was the vacuum-fryer – a food processing equipment that deep fries food in a closed system under reduced pressure, lowering the boiling point of the oil and water present in food. Root crops, marine products, and different vegetables and fruits can be processed using this technology. Compared to traditional deep frying, the vacuum-fryer produces food that are more crunchy, and have lower fat and moisture content. Aside from retaining the natural color and flavor of the food, it also reduces the oil absorbed by food and preserves more of its nutritional content.
On the other hand, the spray-dryer converts liquids into powder. The liquid is first turned into a spray of droplets, which comes into contact with hot air inside the drying chamber. The heat then evaporates the moisture from the droplets, eventually making a powder from the food solution. Milk powder, fruit/vegetable powder, assorted herbal powders, and spices are among the products which can be developed from this technology.
Lastly, the water retort is a pressure cooking vessel used to thermally process food that are packed in sealed containers such as tin cans, glass jars, and retort pouches. This eliminates the microorganisms in the food, prolonging its shelf life even in non-refrigerated conditions.
In addition to these three, the FIC also anticipates to have a freeze dryer and a vacuum packaging machine. The freeze dryer prolongs the shelf life of perishable goods for many years by removing water content, thereby inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. Freeze-dried products retain their taste, color, and nutritional value even without the use of additives. Likewise, the vacuum packaging machine also reduces microbial growth and extends the shelf life of food products by minimizing its contact with air. Using the Vacuum Packaging Machine will keep food fresh, retaining its flavor and reducing shrinkage because food moisture is contained.
These technologies, developed by the Industrial Technology Development Insitute (ITDI) and Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC), hope to replace imported equipment and improve the productivity of local MSMEs.
Around 60 stakeholders attended the FIC inauguration, mostly Municipal Agriculturists from the various local government units (LGUs), representatives from SUCs, MSMEs engaged in the local food industry, and the newly reorganized MIMAROPA Food Safety Team – all of whom are prospective clients of the MIMAROPA FIC.
In line with its food research and development services, the MIMAROPA FIC will also offer technology trainings, consultancies, and short-run production services for its clients. Those who are interested in availing the services of FIC can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (043) 286-2368.