Currently, Kai Anya Foods International Corporation, main manufacturer of the Ready-to-Eat (RTE) food branded as Pack of Hope (POH) arroz caldo, largely distributes to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to be used during times of calamity. Kai Anya is one of the adoptors of the technology provided by the Industrial Technology Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-ITDI).
With the good reception to the POH, the company eyes on expanding its market by serving the increasing demand for the product from schools, non-government organizations (NGOs), and supermarkets.
In 2014, DOST-ITDI developed RTE arroz caldo to address hunger and thirst of calamity survivors for the next 48 hours. The following year, the company took a chance to adopt the technology and commercialize the said product. It has been producing and marketing the Pack of Hope RTE since 2015.
“Hindi lasang relief,” is how a calamity survivor describes Pack of Hope RTE chicken arroz caldo.
DOST-ITDI’s Packaging Technology Division, in partnership with DSWD in regions 7, 11 and NCR conducted a survey on the acceptability of RTE chicken arroz caldo among calamity survivors. Almost 100% rated the samples as highly acceptable as relief foods. The taste is very acceptable and very convenient because it is ready to eat, easy-open and requires no preparation and cooking. It also does not contain preservatives (source: DOSTv).
Eventually, other enterprises saw the market potential for safe and delicious RTE food products. One company from the Visayas has already signed a memorandum of agreement for the adoption and commercialization of RTE chicken arroz caldo. Another company from NCR also intends to adopt the RTE chicken arroz caldo and RTE smoked fish rice meal variant.
Kai Anya’s RTE arroz caldo is currently the only one in the market that can be consumed without the need for hot or cold water to prepare. The commercially available arroz caldo, unlike Kai Anya’s POH-RTE, are either in powder that needs hot water to cook or chilled arroz caldo that still needs to be heated.
Other than arroz caldo, DOST-ITDI has other three variants that are ready for commercialization: smoked fish rice meal, boiled sweet potato, and cassava in light syrup.
In the pipeline are RTE food products that are ready for field testing: corn soup, chicken adobo and beef tapa rice meals. Local entrepreneurs, especially those who are looking for potential business, may check out DOST-ITDI website or contact DOST-ITDI for available technologies that can be adopted for commercialization.
For many occasions, DOST-ITDI’s developed technology has been a big part of Filipinos’ lives. The POH arroz caldo has been the lifeline for survivors of typhoons, eart quakes, landslides, and flooding. From typhoons Lando, Lawin, Nina, Ompong, Urduja, Tisoy, and others; earthquakes in Batanes & Mindanao; volcanic eruptions in Bicol and Taal; flash floods/landslides in Itogon, Benguet & Naga Cebu; fire victims in Cebu; Marawi siege; feeding program in Davao and Cagayan; and up to COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, DOST-ITDI continues to find ways to develop products that are not just convenient, but also nutritional. Ongoing is its development of RTE foods as combat foods for ‘men in uniform’ during combat operations. It is also working on RTE as disaster relief food that help address the nutritional needs of vulnerable groups (children and the elderly). Other relief food products under the brand name POH includes Packaged Breads (monay, pandesal, sliced bread) which has an extended shelf life of three months, uses active packaging technology, and are now ready for field testing and commercialization. (S&T News Service, Geraldine Bulaon-Ducusin)