CLSU showcases dragon fruit peel products in DA-BAR webinar

In order to contribute in the United Nations’ initiative to address environmental and economic problems brought by food wastes, Central Luzon State University (CLSU) maximizes agricultural commodities through value-adding product innovations such as granola bar, syrup, crackers, vitamins, beauty products, and paper and crafts made from dragon fruit peel. Hence, CLSU showcased its zero-waste initiative in a DA-BAR in-house webinar titled, Benefits of Dragon Fruit Peel on 15 December 2022 via Cisco Webex and Facebook Live.

According to the 2020 report of the Philippine Statistics Authority, the dragon fruit production in the Philippines has been increasing with 291,904 fruit-bearing trees from 2010 to 2020 that can generate an estimate of 122.60 tons of peel waste.

The dragon fruit provides consumers nutritional benefits, such as calcium and phosphorus for bones and teeth, respectively. It also has B-vitamin for the nervous system and antioxidants for glowing skin. With this, CLSU came up with the idea of determining the benefits that can be obtained from the discarded waste of dragon fruits, like the peel.

Nakakahinayang ito [dragon fruit peel] itapon dahil mayroon din naman palang nutritional value and biological activity,” said Dr. Dana G. Vera Cruz, project leader and professor from the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management under the College of Home Science and Industry of the said university.

As part of its research, it was found that each type of dragon fruit peel (red and white) has phytochemicals present like alkaloids, flavonoids, cardenolides, and bufadienolides. Aside from these findings, the red dragon fruit peel has higher value than the white variety in terms of their pH level and ascorbic acid. In addition, the microbial counts of the peels are within the acceptable range based on the Food and Drug Administration.

“There is also an antioxidant activity in the peel extracts,” Dr. Vera Cruz added. The said activity increases with added  concentration of the extracts. It also revealed that the white variety is considered a strong antioxidant, while the red variety tells otherwise.

Through the gathered information on the dragon fruit peels, CLSU, led by Dr. Vera Cruz, utilized the peels into food systems, beauty products, and paper and crafts. For the food systems, first is a granola bar called “Life Bar,” which is a supplemental bar that contains cereals, micronutrients, and flavor ingredients intended to supply quick food energy. Second is the Dragondine syrup that is used in cocktails and mocktails. Third is a crispy cracker  also known as “Crispeel”. These food products have high vitamin C with low cholesterol, low calorie, and low sugar content.

Meanwhile, the peels were also turned into beauty products like liquid soap, facial masks, and body scrubs. Some peels were also developed for arts and crafts.

“Beauty products such as Peelissima [facial masks] are not yet available in the market,” said Dr. Vera Cruz. She mentioned that these products are still subject to  technology validation from beauty experts and dermatologists.

Para sure tayo na effective and safe talaga ‘to. At least, we have the prototype for them to assess these,” she added.

When asked on sustainability plans, Dr. Vera Cruz mentioned that the team is hoping for the participation and assistance of local government units to further strengthen collaboration with dragon fruit growers in their respective areas. 

“Part of the pre-commercialization of the project is to actually extend or transfer the technology to the farmers. We have filed a utility model and IEC [information, education, and communication] materials also have copyrights,” Dr. Vera Cruz ended. (### Diwa J. Velasquez)