Neglected, underutilized fruits process into value products


The Philippines is blessed with abundant and diverse species of fruits, but many of them remain underutilized in terms of food processing.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 170 of 300 fruits bearing perennial plant species are considered indigenous and most are either underutilized or neglected. They are commonly found in localities, but very few of them are available.

Recognizing the importance and potential of underutilized fruits, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), featured two topics in its seminar serried emphasizing the nutrition, processing value, product development, and economic approaches of novel products from the underutilized fruit crops. The seminar, led by the bureau’s Applied Communication Division, was held on 28 February 2019 at BAR Annex Building, Visayas Ave in Quezon City.

Dr. Dennis Marvin O. Santiago, project leader and associate professor of the Institute of Food Science and Technology, University of the Philippine Los Baños, served as the resource speaker on the topic, “Utilization of Neglected Underutilized Tropical Fruits for the Development of High Value Food Products”. The project aimed to develop high-value products from selected and underutilized indigenous fruits in the country.

According to Dr. Santiago, tropical fruit crops also known as ‘minor, ‘orphan’ or promising crops, are wild and domesticated plant species that have been overlooked by agricultural researchers and policymakers. “In fact, out of 30,000 edible plants only 30 are used to feed the world providing 95 percent of our food energy requirement. We saw the need to develop a research study intended to optimize their potentials,” he said.

Dr. Santiago emphasized the needs in processing this neglected underutilized tropical fruits because it has inherent characteristics that can turn fruit into human health product by processing them. Nutrient-wise, it has 70-95 percent water; high percentage of phytochemicals such as phenolic compounds, organic acids, carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin, Vitamin A, B complex, C, E with macro and micro minerals; and carbohydrates that are present in digestible and indigestible forms.

Through the project, the group of Dr. Santiago was able to optimize the processing parameters of these underutilized fruits for wine and cordial production including passion fruit, sapinit, rambutan, longan, rattan, lipote, aranga, duhat and kalumpit. Among the product lines developed included juices, concentrates, fruit in syrups, jams, and jellies. They have established a quality assurance system in the processing the indigenous fruits into products.

“Utilizing them into commonly consumed food products will address the nutritional and human health problems and in effect, improve the economic status of farmers owing to the added-value of their produce,” Santiago concluded.

Another topic discussed during the seminar series was the “Product Improvement and Marketing for Dalanghita Nectar,” presented by Dr. Victoria Noble, project leader from the Southern Luzon State University (SLSU) Tagkawayan Campus. Her discussion centered on providing basis information in the existing market situation of dalanghita in Southern Luzon. Product procedures on making dalanghita nectar were also discussed. ### (Leoveliza C. Fontanil)

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