PCIEERD allocates P2.7-M to fund Plants’ protein-rich food exploration

The Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) has allocated P2.78 million for the exploration of protein-rich plant foods that can be developed from processing local food wastes and underutilized legumes.

Led by Lourdes Montevirgen of the Department of Science and Technology – Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI), the project  currently explores various methods to produce protein concentrates from industrial-scale processing of by-products like meal cake (e.g. pressed coconut meat after VCO extraction) and bran.

Department of Science abd Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said the team will study specific local legume varieties such as cowpea and pigeon pea and develop ”pre-treatment, extraction, and recovery methods of protein, evaluate its food product applications, and craft pilot-scale production of protein concentrates.”

“Adding value to existing production wastes in the Philippines, this project opens the possibility of the creation of new product variants such as beverages, meat analogue, and high-protein supplements,” Dela Pena said in a Viber message.

PCIEERD executive director Enrico Paringit told media that “unconventional sources could include pressed coconut meal for by-products, and cowpea and pigeon pea for local sources.”

“We usually think of soy when we hear about protein replacement, but there could be (other) local sources,” Paringit said.

De la Peña said the team has already started preliminary experiments on raw materials bought from public markets and will soon start with the initial test runs for protein extraction and analysis.

The researchers also consulted with the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and the Bureau of Plant Industry in Pangasinan for the available varieties and local suppliers of legumes in the country, he added.

“The team looks forward to strengthening the Philippines’ food industries. The project is essential and timely as Filipinos continue to look for healthier, more affordable food alternatives,” the DOST chief said.