Aquino lauds Philippine livestock sector for ensuring food safety from farm to fork

President Benigno Aquino III has recognized the effort of the livestock sector in safeguarding public health while ensuring enough production to meet the demand for meat and poultry products.

The chief executive took note of the twin achievements in his keynote address during the opening ceremony of Livestock 2015 Philippines Expo on June 25 at the SMX convention center in Pasay City.

As you know, the Philippines has been performing very well in terms of food safety. Our country has been free from Avian Flu since 2005, and of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) since 2010,” he pointed out.

The three-day Livestock Expo 2015 is an international trade exhibition focusing on the farm to fork concept. Participated by local and foreign stakeholders in the livestock industry, the biennial activity is fast-gaining a reputation as one of Asia’s prestigious livestock shows highlighted by exhibits of the latest livestock equipment and technical sessions by experts from various countries in Asia.

Aquino, who was formally introduced by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, noted that the Philippines recently attained the highest level of recognition as a country free from FMD without vaccination, which further increases the country’s competitiveness in the upcoming Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Integration this year. 

“Only four ASEAN countries, the Philippines included, can boast of this recognition. The goal now is not only to maintain these standards, but also to ensure that our livestock sector continues to grow,” he declared.

To fully support the industry, the administration increased the budget of the sector by 108 percent, he added.

“Our administration’s increased commitment in this regard can be seen in how much we have invested in livestock and poultry. Over the course of our term, we have increased the budget of this sector by 108 percent. This has given us the wherewithal to increase focus on animal health by providing vaccinations and undertaking disease surveillance, among other measures, to control, if not eradicate, these animal diseases,” he said.

He also mentioned that key legislation have been passed to promote food safety and security with the amendment of the Meat Inspection Code. 

“With the help of allies from Congress, we amended the Meat Inspection Code, which imposes stricter fines for food safety violations, perhaps most prominently the transport or sale of the so-called ‘hot meat’. There is also the Food Safety Act of 2013, which strengthens our food regulatory system to better protect consumer health and facilitate our food exports,” he stated.

The President said that the achievements of the Philippines in terms of food safety “make us eligible to export meat.”

At present, the Department of Agriculture is pursuing two large-scale projects–a Class AAA poultry dressing plant in Bamban, Tarlac and a Class AAA slaughterhouse in Tanauan, Batangas–to maximize the country’s eligibility as a meat exporter. Both of these projects are expected to be completed this year.

Aquino also highlighted the efforts being made of the livestock sector to further attract and forge new and deeper partnerships with private investors.

“I understand that more than half the exhibitors here are visiting from other countries and looking for opportunities in the Philippine livestock industry. We continue to offer incentives for those willing to invest in these industries in non-traditional areas, and invite all visitors present today to fully explore the possibilities, and to look for opportunities through which we can amplify each other’s strengths towards a more robust livestock sector,” he said.

Since its inception in 2011, the Livestock Expo Philippines has drawn interest from the international agribusiness community, indicative of which was that 80% of the attendees of this year’s edition were foreign companies. The expo continues to attract some 8,000 quality trade visitors from 16 countries.

More than 200 brands of meat products from 18 countries were highlighted during the three-day exhibition co-supported by the Department of Agriculture and its attached livestock agencies, namely, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) and National Dairy Authority (NDA), as well as the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (BAFS). 

PCC conducts 2015 R4D in-house review

The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) is moving into a non-traditional, problem-oriented and focused Research for Development (R4D) that has more relevance to stakeholders in the carabao industry.

In the context of this new paradigm, PCC showcased its research efforts in this year’s R4D in-house review held at the PCC national headquarters on June 16-17.

Focusing on the thematic areas on biosafety, genetic improvement-animal genomics, product development, production management system, genetic improvement-reproductive and cryopreservation techniques, and social and policy researches relevant to the carabao industry, the two-day activity focused on five completed researches, 17 on-going studies and two special presentations. 

The research papers were first presented in the R4D pre- in-house review conducted by PCC in November 2014 to screen on-going and completed researches prior to presentation in the in-house review. 

The in-house review is an annual activity that demonstrates and recognizes the PCC’s research initiatives. It likewise helps create opportunities for researchers and scientists to present their noteworthy accomplishments, and to interact and share learnings with one another.

Further, the in-house review is a monitoring and evaluation tool for PCC to ensure that its efforts on research for development are aligned with its R4D Agenda, according to Dr. Eric Palacpac, national R4D coordinator.

“It serves as a venue for sharing research results with the scientific community and as a motivating tool for researchers to strengthen their interest in conducting pertinent researches in line with the PCC’s mandate,” he stated. 

The event was capped with a recognition program for the best paper and best presenter as its way of recognizing researchers who excel in their respective disciplines. 

Dr. Jezie A. Acorda, professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of the Philippines – Los Baños (CVM-UPLB) chaired the panel of external evaluators that included Dr. Rosalina Lapitan, Scientist I and a retired PCC employee, and Peter James Icalia, instructor at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU).

“There are things that can be addressed by research with practical application that will contribute directly to our problems. Our continuing efforts, extension services and other activities are all focused on increasing farmers’ income. How will the farmers benefit from all these? That is the bottom line; our R4D will help us lead to that increasing income. PCC, however, is consistent in delivering relevant researches on different field of disciplines and consistent also in delivering its targets to the government,” Dr. Arnel N. Del Barrio, PCC acting executive director, said in his remarks during the review.

“We want to bundle all researches addressing industry problems like, for example, researches related to increasing milk yield among buffaloes, reducing mortality rate, increasing fertility, calf drop and the like,” he added.

At the end of the two-day review, awards were given to the researchers who excelled in their research activities. 

Adjudged best paper in the completed research category was the study titled, “The Kinetics of Sperm Penetration and Embryo Development as Predictors of Fertility of Frozen Buffalo Semen” conducted by Excel Rio Maylem, PCC science research specialist II. 

The student thesis titled, “Biological Control Efficacy of the Nematophagous Fungi Duddingtonia flagrans in Common Strongyle Roundworms and Fasciola sp. Of Swamp Buffaloes” conducted by Toni Rose M. Barroga with Dr. Claro N. Mingala, Scientist II as host researcher was given the best paper and best presenter awards.

The special presentations were on two studies titled “Raw milk physic-chemical characteristics of moringa leaf meal (MoLM) fed in crossbred water buffaloes” conducted by Dr. Norberto Tadeo, a professor at the Isabela State University, and  “Correlation of infrared tympanic and rectal body temperatures in lactating Bulgarian murrah buffaloes in the Philippines”, conducted by Dr. Adrian Ybanez, dean of the School of Health and Sciences and associate professor at the Cebu-based Southwestern University (SWU).

Some 80 participants joined the in-house review. These included scientists and researchers from the PCC national and regional centers as well as students from the PCC host state universities. 

PCC-USF pioneers PCC, DSWD dairy convergence project

Continuing efforts aimed at the development of the local dairy industry has received another boost with the transfer of a P10-million starter kit training fund from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to the Philippine Carabao Center at Ubay Stock Farm (PCC at USF).

The fund transfer was done during a ceremony held June 8, marking the collaboration of PCC and DSWD under the latter’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

Considered a first in the country, the joint endeavor traces its origin to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered into by PCC at USF and DSWD Field Office VII in 2014 for the development a Pilot Dairy Commodity Cluster Model Project in the Bohol province under the DWSD’s SLP.

“DSWD provides the fund intended for the starter kit training on dairying for 500 beneficiaries,” explained Jennifer Quimno, DSWD-7 SLP regional project coordinator.

Aside from the fund, DSWD is also responsible in the validation on the eligibility of the SLP beneficiaries. On the other hand, PCC is responsible on the procurement of carabaos as the basic resource for the starter kit training, validation on the compliance of the recipients to dairying requirements, and the provision of technical assistance and forage development.

Moreover, PCC at USF and DSWD-7 will jointly undertake provide social preparation and community-driven enterprise development (CDED) sessions and interventions that may be deemed necessary in the implementation of the project. They will establish tie-ups with other public and private partners for continuous skills and micro-enterprise development trainings as well as provision of needed common facilities in milk production or milk processing.

Aside from the DSWD fund, the Bohol provincial government headed by Gov. Edgar M. Chatto has provided a counterpart of P916,500 for the one-year insurance of the animals.

Dr. Arnel N. del Barrio, PCC acting executive director, said the convergence initiative is significant because it means income not just for the farmers but also for Bohol province.

“If lahat (500 beneficiaries) ay kukuha ng isang liter (of milk) araw-araw, meron na kaagad kayong 500 liters of milk a day, at kung ito ay bibilhin ng P50 per liter, meron na kayong P25,000 in one day [If all of the 500 beneficiaries are going to harvest a liter of milk everyday, there will be 500 liters of milk a day. If this will be bought for P50.00 a liter, there will be P25,000 accumulated income per day.],” he explained. He further stated that with intensive care on the carabao, the farmers can milk it for 200 days, thus they can achieve an income of P5 million in a year.

Dr. Caro Salces, PCC at USF center director, expressed his appreciation for the support and trust given by the DSWD and the provincial and local government units during the turn-over ceremony.

“I’m glad that our leaders can speak of the program very well. They are better promoters of the program,” he said.

“Thank you PCC at USF na pinangunahan n’yo ang magandang programang ito, baka ka ‘ko ay kopyahin namin ito sa iba pang lugar (Thank you PCC at USF for spearheading this wonderful program, we might even implement this in other areas,” said Dir. del Barrio.

Proper animal nutrition key to increased milk yield

It takes superior genetics and proper feeding management for a dairy buffalo to be able to unleash its full dairy potential. Put another way, the animal’s capacity for high milk yield is a result of its feed intake as much as its genetic attributes.

Thus, it is imperative in every dairy production enterprise that there is an abundant source of feeds for the animal, such as forages, to ensure a copious flow of milk, experts from the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) said.

Over the years, the number of small-hold dairy buffalo production units in the country has increased as the PCC continuously implements its intensified Carabao Development Program (CDP). The CDP aims to harness the potential of the native carabaos as dairy animals by improving their breeds to provide a viable additional source of income to the Filipino farmers.

The PCC’s efforts have resulted in an increase of the population of high-quality milking animals in the hands of rural dairy farmers throughout the country.

With this development, however, the dairy farmers, who are also mostly rice farmers, are challenged by the pressing need to provide enough and proper food for the animals to ensure higher milk yields.

In a survey conducted by the agency among leaders of the different dairy cooperatives in Nueva Ecija, one of the major problems that surfaced was the lack of enough feed to meet the requirement of the animals. The survey was meant to assess feed-related aspects of livestock production.

The same issue was also identified during a separate dairy forum. The problem, it was pointed out, is exacerbated by the reluctance of some farmers to devote a part of their land as forage area.

This limitation prevents farmers from expanding their herd size and hinders them from providing the right amount of feeds for their dairy buffaloes, thereby not reaching optimized milking capacity of their animals and in effect, an optimized income.

Rising to the challenge

To address the problem, the PCC has taken steps to improve and scale up local forage production in the country.

We need to help farmers establish their own pasture areas and plant improved grasses and legumes,” Dr. Arnel N. del Barrio, PCC executive director, said.

The PCC is putting in place a national forage program through the establishment of forage nurseries across the PCC network and in the different regional impact zones.

The national nursery will contain different forages that will be acquired from various sources. These will be tested and evaluated according to their yield and compositions,” del Barrio said.

The PCC regional centers, he added, will also develop their own nurseries with tested forages taken from the national nursery. The extent of their nurseries for forage growing will vary depending on the suitability of the materials given the environmental conditions in their respective regions.

When the institutional nurseries are developed, smaller ones will be established at the cooperative level to be managed by the farmers and will be accessed by them for a certain fee.

These nurseries will ensure the continuous propagation of high quality grasses and legumes and the availability of planting materials for our farmers,” the PCC head stated.

After ensuring the availability of planting materials, the next step would be the promotion of the utilization of the improved grasses to the farmers. An expert will be hired to spearhead the development and implementation of tools or modalities on how to effectively transfer the forage technology to the farmers, he explained.

With the availability of planting materials and an efficient tool in cascading the technology, it is assured that the farmers will be able to provide quality feed for their animals, he added.

Enhanced feeds

Aside from fresh forages, the PCC is also pushing for the use of complementary feeding materials for the dairy buffalo, especially during the lean months for forage production.

Currently, it is collaborating with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) in several projects to produce sustainable supply of conserved forages for feeding of the dairy buffaloes.

One such project is the community-based production and marketing of silage. A group of farmers in Lupao, Nueva Ecija is engaged in the project, promoting and marketing silage as a nutritive feed for the dairy buffaloes while demonstrating its potential as a viable source of income for farmers.

Another project is the use of urea-treated rice straw (UTRS), an enriched rice straw, as another feed resource for buffaloes.

According to Dr. Daniel L. Aquino, project leader and head of PCC’s animal nutrition unit, the treatment of rice straw with urea and/or molasses increases its crude protein content. The improvement in its nutritive value leads to the enhancement of its palatability and digestibility, thus, helps increase the feed intake and the overall productivity of the buffaloes, he added.

The project is currently piloted among selected farmer-cooperatives in Llanera and General Natividad, Nueva Ecija.

Continuing research for development

The PCC is conducting various researches to further develop technologies that will help improve the nutritional aspect of dairy buffalo production.

The Animal Nutrition Unit is currently studying the composition of Pakchong, an improved variety of napier grass, and studying its utilization aspect as feed for the dairy buffaloes.

Developed in Thailand, the Pakchong is being touted as the “super napier grass” due to its high yield and high crude protein content. It also grows faster and taller than the native grass.

The grass is being propagated and planting materials will be distributed among the dairy farmers, PCC officials said.

Meanwhile, the team is studying the use of bypass fat as feed supplement to supply the needed energy of a lactating carabao, enhancing its ability to produce more milk.

Another study geared towards optimizing the milking potential of dairy buffaloes is the use of feed microbial to improve the overall functions of the rumen, thereby increasing the animals’ feed nutrient utilization.

As the PCC continues to make headway in its multi-pronged efforts, it is always conscious of its mandate to use the carabao as a tool in the betterment of the lives of local dairy farmers. All its efforts are directed at providing and creating a sustainable livelihood to usher in socio-economic development to their lives.

The bottom line will always be how to best help the dairy farmers,” del Barrio said.

Genetic Improvement: Core of the Carabao Development Program

It is said that “development can’t happen in a dash but it takes couple of years to achieve it.” In this context and from indications, the Genetic Improvement Program (GIP) of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) is making steady progress in its efforts aimed at improving the genes of both the riverine (dairy type) and swamp (native type) buffaloes that will eventually redound to the best interest of thousands of Filipino farmers.

The GIP is the core component in the implementation of the Carabao Development Program (CDP). Its primary goal is to improve the genetic merit of both the swamp and riverine type of buffaloes to produce better sires.

It conducts research for development studies related to carabao upgrading, and genomics, among others, to acquire additional information as well as phenotypic and genetic parameters for its breeding program.

Furthermore, it identifies and selects buffaloes with high quality genetics for use in breeding to increase the genetic potential of the buffalo population in the country for meat and milk production for future generations.

GIP’s role and function

The GIP’s major role and function in the CDP are an integral part in the planning for the improvement of the next generations of buffaloes. This means that exerting crucial endeavors in research for development studies and working in the field are very vital for the attainment of the GIP’s goal.

Over the years since the establishment of PCC in 1993, the GIP’s role to improve the genetic merit of both the swamp-type and the riverine-type of buffaloes has been non-stop.

The GIP’s accomplishments, so far, has seen thousands of the dairy farmers in the country availing of the improved genetics through the use of artificial insemination (AI) and the use of riverine bulls for natural mating to produce quality purebred and crossbred dairy buffaloes.

Thus, the GIP’s researches, selection and ranking processes for the animals with superior genetics have become of great help to the farmers.

Selection and ranking process

According to Dr. Ester Flores, head of the PCC’s GIP unit, the selection and ranking of buffaloes based on genetic merit are being carried out by their unit twice a year.

Dr. Flores explained that they identify young bulls to be recruited for semen collection and eventual progeny testing based on their parent average breeding values (EBVPA) and conformation.

“Only the top 2% of young bulls ranked each year qualify for recruitment,” she said.

“Those selected are sent to the semen station of PCC either in Digdig, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija or in PCC at University of the Philippine Los Baños (UPLB). These buffaloes are screened and required to pass semen quality evaluation before it become semen donors,” she added.

She also said that: “Only about two thirds of the selected buffaloes pass the criteria for semen quality evaluation”.

“From these crops of young bulls selected every year, only eight enter progeny testing. It is only after eight years that the genetic merit of those young bulls the entered the progeny testing become available when the first lactation performance of their respective daughters are known,” she said.

“Following the principle of “mating the best with the best”, highest ranking bulls (elite bulls) are selected and mated with the highest ranking cows (elite cows) located in various test stations to produce the next crop of young bulls from which to select future semen donors outlined above. In this component of the breeding program, young untested (waiting to be proven) bulls are ranked together with senior, proven bulls in the selection process. This is made possible as the methodology for predicting genetic merit, “best linear unbiased prediction” (BLUP), of individual animals included in the breeding program can adequately compare even across ages and thus, the potential contribution of young bulls are not missed out due to their age,” she explained.

She added: “Young bulls evaluated that did not make it to the top 2% are still considered for natural service through the bull loan program of the PCC provided these were screened to be of sound conformation”.

GIP researches

In the last two decades, the GIP’s researches focused on establishing information on individual performances and predicting genetic merit for milk production traits (milk yield, fat yield and protein yield) in dairy buffaloes and average daily gain for growth traits for the swamp buffaloes. In order to do this, genetic parameters such as heritability estimates and correlations of the production traits and the optimum genetic evaluation model for the Philippine dairy as well as swamp buffaloes were estimated. Other traits in support of production such as conformation and milk quality are also considered in research. This will ensure a well-rounded selection process.

These studies helped the GIP to improve its current breeding program system, mating plans for buffalo’s herds and developed genetic evaluation models to better predict higher accuracy of buffaloes having superior genetics.

Flores said that they are continuously conducting this kind of researches to acquire more and more gainful results and information.

She said that they are also conducting new researches to provide additional parameters for new traits and information in the selection and ranking process of the buffalo’s herds.

She said that continuing research include the study titled: “Using random regression test day models to estimate genetic parameters for milk yield and milk components in Philippine Dairy Buffalo”. New researches are also into the use DNA markers as additional information in predicting genetic merit and in shortening the time period in selection of breeders. A project funded by DOST-PCAARRD titled “Genotyping the Philippine water buffaloes using the medium density 90k buffalo Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) panel” is the most recent research undertaking of GIP unit into DNA marker technology as applied in animal breeding.

Flores said that the first of the two research studies is about the evaluation of the buffaloes’ performance based on three traits, which are their milk yield, milk fat and milk protein, using the multi-trait random regression model. She added that this research is expected to result in new progress in this field.

As regards to the other study, Flores said that the 90K SNP chip research is about the use of dense Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) markers associated with the milk production traits of the buffaloes to predict the genetic value or total genetic merit of the animals.

Flores said that the research will help them determine which among the animals are carrying a favorable allele on their genes using the 90,000 SNP markers that are in the SNP chip.

She elaborated that the SNP chip is a type of DNA microarray that is being used to detect polymorphisms (occurrence of two different form or alleles of a gene) on 90,000 DNA markers. It will be used to identify a set of DNA markers in the buffalo that have a significant influence on milk, fat and protein yields, she said.

She added that allele is one of the two or more versions of a buffalo’s gene that undergo mutations and create effects in the milk production traits of the animals. Thus, it is helpful in providing data of the favorable gene that is good to use in the GIP’s breeding program.

Directions of buffalo breeds

Flores said that the following are the directions of buffalo breeds in the country:

First: the swamp-type or the native buffaloes for meat production.

Flores emphasized that they will focus more on improving the meat quality traits of the native carabaos and later on establishes data on estimating the breeding values of these carabaos.

But, right now, aside from the conservation effort of the GIP to the native breeds of buffaloes, she said that they are currently recording the growth rates of the native carabaos for breeding purposes.

She added that, currently there four selected native carabaos in the bull farm in Barangay Joson in Digdig, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija. The selected carabaos, she said, are being used as semen donor for the use of the PCC-trained Village Based Artificial Insemination Technicians (VBAIT) in providing services to the farmers or to the farmers themselves who want to carry or use the native semen for impregnating their female native carabaos in the field.

Second: genetic improvement of the dairy-type for more milk production and the improvement of their milk quality traits.

Flores said their efforts on this concern are focused on the following: enhancing the nutritional value of the buffalo’s milk for the benefit of the main stakeholders in the local dairy industry: the farmers and the processors; improving the dairy-type buffaloes, particularly the males, for breeding purposes as sources of meat; and reproduction of crossbred buffaloes or “mestisang kalabaw”.

Flores said that the study on crossbred buffaloes, which are a product of continuous backcrossing of the native-type and the dairy-type, is headed toward the emergence of “Philippine dairy buffalo”.

Flores said that as part of the effort of the PCC to create or produce the “Philippine dairy buffalo”, the GIP will later on standardized the data and recording system connected to the performance of the crossbreds. Through this, she added, it will enable PCC to state with certainty that the produced breed is truly a “Philippine dairy buffalo”.


GIP’s plans involve the continuous improvement of the buffalo’s breeds through the conduct of crucial research for development endeavors generation after generation. As of now, researches lined up include studies on somatic cell count, meat quality traits and the creation of a fertility index, among others, which are considered vital in accomplishing their goals.

PCC-USM Awards Italian Buffaloes to Dairy Association in Davao del Norte

The Philippine Carabao Center at University of Southern Mindanao (PCC at USM) recently awarded 21 Italian Buffaloes to 21 qualified farmer-members of the Braulio E. Dujali Farmers’ Livestock Raisers and Dairy Workers’ Association in the municipality of Braulio E. Dujali, Davao del Norte.

The turn-over ceremony was held May 26 at the Farmers’ Training Center, Palayamanan, Brgy. Cabayangan of Dujali town, which is part of Region XI or the Davao region.

One of the highlights of the program was the signing of a memorandum of agreement between PCC and the Dujali local government unit (LGU) stating, among others, the responsibilities of both signatories.

With the release of the Italian buffaloes through the Modified Paiwi Scheme-25 Dairy Module, PCC shall provide technical support in terms of health management, breeding, dairy production, record keeping, product development and marketing for a sustainable carabao-based enterprise.

At present, some farmers are already milking their crossbreds. With the arrival of the Italian buffaloes, the association’s production and income are projected to increase when the animals reach the milking stage and the milk produce processed into various dairy products.

Dr. Arnel N. del Barrio, PCC acting executive director; Lolita A. Moral, Duhali municipal mayor, and Benjamin John C. Basilio, PCC at USM center director led the signing rites. Also present were Vice Mayor Samuel F. Pacres, Municipal Agriculturist Nelson C. Baer, Dairy Association president Arturo Mosqueza as well as representatives from the Sangguniang Bayan, Davao del Norte second congressional district, Office of the Governor, Department of Agriculture-RFO XI, Quarantine Office, Provincial Veterinary Office, officers and members of the dairy association, and staff of DA-LGU and PCC-USM.

PCC’s Carabao-based Enterprise Development (CBED) envisions the improvement of the quality of life of people in farming communities through carabao dairying with strong LGU support.

Local dairy producers set sights on improved products “with a twist”

Product developers, including those in the dairy industry, are aware that consumers nowadays are always looking for something new in the market. Thus, they become more explorative, striving to try something new, never settling on just one variant.

Product development means not only creating new products but also improving the quality of the existing ones.

In this regard, the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) develops the technologies and promotes the products to show dairy farmers that there is really money out of milk and more profit if they process it into different milk products. Using available technologies, the more creative and enterprising ones improvise.

Producers of dairy items, such as those at the product outlets of the PCC at Central Luzon State University (PCC at CLSU) and PCC at University of Los Baños (PCC at UPLB), the PCC Milka Krem central milk processing plant, and some other private entrepreneurs, take into consideration different factors in developing products.

The PCC at CLSU experience

A former consultant-chef of PCC at CLSU who used to be a distributor of products from PCC suggested that the center to consider making dairy products that are commercially available in Manila but were actually imported from other countries.

“She asked us to develop products similar to the products sold in Manila that are made out of carabao’s milk. We asked a sample and did experiments and trials on how to develop them. We requested her to do the sensory evaluation since she knew the quality of the products and the high-end market. We tried to revisit our trials and did some modifications. It was a series of 5-6 trials for the table-type mozzarella, bocconcini, greek-style yogurt or plain yogurt, ricotta cheese that we tried to develop,” Mina Abella, officer in charge of PCC at CLSU products outlet, said.

Abella added: “We came up with products that are acceptable to her and to the market or the market-driven products. In terms of pricing, we made our price relatively cheaper than the existing commercial ones.”

Eventually, PCC at CLSU also came out with different flavors of pastillas (milk candy) with different flavors lacing these with malunggay (Moringa oleifera), tanglad (lemongrass) and herbs for their beneficial effects on health.

“Nutri Rice” milk and other saleable dairy products

In developing the products, the PCC at CLSU considers suggestions from the staff and researchers plus the resources, processes, protocols and qualities of the products. Customers’ satisfaction survey results, customers’ suggestions and product positioning in the market are likewise utilized as decision-making inputs.

The PCC at CLSU facility processed an average of 60-70 liters of milk a day in the last quarter of 2014. In the previous quarters, it used to process an average of 100 liters of milk daily.

The products developed from the available volume of milk were mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, bocconcini, quark cheese, seven different flavors of yogurt milk, iced-yogurt, a yogurt packed in an iced-candy sachet which was developed in summer of 2013; coffee milk, a milk-based coffee with a very affordable price; yogurt with jelly on top, milkaroons and rice milk.

The production of rice milk was initially a project by Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), until a staff from PCC suggested that carabao’s milk be used to blend it as “Nutri Rice” milk. The PCC and PhilRice then collaborated to come up with a formulation that utilizes germinated brown rice and carabao’s milk.

PhilRice, at first, used either powdered milk or cow’s milk until it finally settled on the use of carabao’s milk as ingredient. Brown rice, an expert said, is already healthy, but germinating it and adding carabao’s milk makes for an even a healthier drink.

“The experiment on the use of the germinated brown rice (GBR) started in the third quarter of 2014 and was soon perfected with use of the carabao’s milk. PhilRice provides us the GBR and we’re processing it into nutririce milk. The product is now sold in their cafeteria, in our outlet, and other places, and being served in seminars,” Abella said.

As for developing the iced-yogurt, Abella pointed out: “There are students who want yogurt but couldn’t afford the price. That’s the time we thought of developing an iced-yogurt with a very affordable price and it became very saleable. Actually, it is an iced-candy with a twist.”

Developing a product also takes into consideration the product’s shelf life. Thus, producers make interventions on how to prolong its shelf-life and improve its quality.

The PCC at CLSU processing facility also considered room temperature in the incubation of yogurt to cater to the needs of small-hold farmers in creating their own products.

“If you don’t have high-end processing facility, it doesn’t mean that you can no longer develop products. Just explore using whatever resources you have,” Abella advised.

“Product development is important. You should always be ahead of your competitor. Don’t just settle for the products you have, develop something new or else you’ll be left behind by your competitor. In the market, what comes first, gets the best,” she added.

Putting whey to good use

Currently, the PCC at CLSU processing facility focuses on the utilization of whey products. It is a by-product of cheese-making in which about 50-60% of the milk’s volume goes to whey, a nutritious liquid, that can be developed into more valuable products like whey beverages, whey yogurt and whey vinegar.

Ricotta cheese is one example of a whey product.

The development of whey vinegar and whey sports drink has been the subject of the theses of CLSU food technology students. The experiment for whey vinegar started in January 2015 while that focusing on whey sports drink is currently in progress. If the research proposal for the whey sports drink is approved, then the PCC will provide the budget for the study, which will be conducted for one semester. It includes profitability analysis, sensory evaluation and consumer’s acceptability.

Usually new product development is done in comparison with the sensory qualities of those already available commercially.

“Whey is a very good beverage for athletes and for those who exercise in the gym because it contains a certain amino acid that is good in developing muscle tissues. Until now, many people don’t realize the nutritional value of whey products. That’s why we are developing them to be acceptable to the children,” Abella stated.

The CLSU dairy products outlet also considers the unavailability of some products developed and sold at the PCC-managed Milka Krem. They include products like milkaroons, ricotta cheese, coffee milk and others.

“We also plan to develop products that contain less sugar for the diabetics, like the pastillas (milk candy). We also plan to produce non-food products like soap, lotion and shampoo using the carabao’s milk as ingredient someday,” Abella said.

Central Milk Processing Plant (CMPP) strategy

In the Milka Krem CMPP, product development depends on customers’ satisfaction surveys. From the results therein, there were able to determine what the general public wants to be developed for the market.

“We conduct the survey, research about the product suggested in survey results, make formulation trials, do a lot of treatments for comparison, sensory evaluation and analysis of the results. From the results, we know which one to develop,” Patrizia Saturno, CMPP manager, explained.

For Saturno, their biggest challenge lies in the different preferences of consumers when it comes to the products. Therefore, they consider the product that garnered the most number of preferences in surveys and sales in the selection in the product to be developed commercially.

Private entrepreneur’s innovative ideas

The innovative ideas and persistent determination for a high quality product of Ariel ‘Aying’ Viñas, a private entrepreneur in Cabiao Nueva Ecija, have resulted in the steady stream of customers who made the entrepreneur’s business boom.

The creation of entrepreneur Viñas, the Aying’s Homemade Pastillas, has become a much-sought commodity for many customers from different places. They like very much the firm’s famous creamy pastillas products that are packed in colorful wrappers.

Aying’s first three flavored pastillas were pastillas de leche, ube and yema. It eventually expanded to eight distinct flavors.

“Each time I see food products when I go out with my family, I always think of how I can incorporate those items with our pastillas. I conduct experiments until I develop a new recipe for the product,” he revealed.

He developed his own version of frappé, a variation of the ever-popular Filipino dessert, Halo-halo, with pastillas as additional ingredient, and lumpia (spring rolls) wrapped in fried pastillas. He will soon offer dessert pizza filled with pastillas and currently exploring the possibility of baking bread with pastillas as filling.

Aying recognizes the stiff competition among the established and new pastillas-makers. But he said the solution for survival in the business is always to be creative in creating new products that will be different and saleable.

The PCC at UPLB experience

As with PCC at CLSU, all the products of PCC at University of Los Baños also pass through the sensory evaluation of its panel, which includes consumers. It uses a sensory evaluation form to get the consumer feedback.

“Before we develop and launch a product, it has to pass through a panel. It is our standard procedure in developing products to consider those that will have higher demand from the consumers,”

Dr. Rosalina Lapitan, officer in charge of PCC at UPLB, said.

After a series of sensory evaluation, she said, the producers invite the staff members of the center and animal scientists from the dairy sciences cluster of UPLB for the products’ taste-test.

Then the developed products are brought to the center’s assisted-dairy cooperatives for commercial production. It is up to the coops to make some adjustments and modifications to meet their consumers’ preferences. The center makes visits to see the progress of the co-ops’ endeavors in production and marketing.

They also conduct an end-product quality testing for each dairy co-op they assisted. All of their products should have its standard ingredients.

“Milk is very perishable and as such it cannot be stored for long. It needs to be processed immediately and at the same time all of its ingredients should be ready. There is much spoilage when we run out of ingredients and stock. Among the challenges we met are the scarcity of resources and the availability of ripening room for the development of different variants of cheese,” Dr. Lapitan explained.

PCC at UPLB conducts one-week training on milk processing and mozzarella cheese-making. The training also includes good manufacturing processes.

“We market our products by promoting and having a free tasting. After the taste-test, we give them the sensory evaluation form for their comments and feedbacks,” Dr. Lapitan said.

Carabeef sausages

PCC at UPLB is the only regional center in the PCC network that initiates the processing of meat products. In 2007, it started to offer carabeef sausages.

“We had a consultant back then whom we asked on what we can do with the carabao’s meat. He suggested products that will use carabeef as the base meat. We developed sausages for processing,” Dr. Lapitan said.
Labeled as “Carabest Premium Carabeef Sausages,” they are processed by the Animal Products Development Center (APDC) of the Bureau of Animal Industry in Marulas, Valenzuela City, which was commissioned by PCC at UPLB for the purpose.

The meat used for processing variants of “Carabest” premium gourmet sausages is derived from culled animals from the PCC at UPLB institutional herd. These are animals that are either no longer productive or are male crossbreds.

However, due to the limited supply of carabao’s meat, PCC at UPLB couldn’t sustain frequent processing of such meat products.

“Even if we want to satisfy the growing demand from our customers, we don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the meat that we process by outsourcing it from other suppliers,” Dr. Lapitan said. “We will soon solve this problem,” she added.

As can be deduced, based on the experiences of the producers, they don’t come up with just one product and say that it is enough. They do continuous improvement and make use of innovative ideas. Thinking out-of-the-box is what makes them come up with various items, especially products “with a twist” that really sell.