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Ingredients: Turmeric and Brown Sugar
San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro
“Naalala ko nga po, nagsimula kami na manual lang naming pinipiga ‘yung mga calamansi. Doon pa sa kusina ng aming bahay, habang nanonood ng TV” – Lurie Mary Grace.
After planting and growing only two calamansi trees in the backyard, the Fajutag family was able to formulate HoneyMAN-C— what they consider as the perfect blend of fresh calamansi concentrate.
BCDC Agricultural Products started as a backyard enterprise until the family headed by the matriarch, Lurynith, registered it as a business in 2015. Lurynith’s background as a chemical engineer helped her develop the right product from the trees planted by his husband, Apollo, which later boomed into a highly successful business.
According to one of their daughters Lurie Mary Grace, she, and her sister did not focus much on the calamansi concentrate production as they were busy with school. Come 2017, Lurie Mary Grace and her sister agreed to work on their family business. Both now manage the BCDC Agricultural Products.
“Noong nag-uumpisa pa kami, hindi nawala sa akin ‘yung inggit sa mga ka-batch ko na sa office nagwo-work, naka-aircon, naka-porma. Samantalang ako nag bubuhat ng produkto namin para i-deliver sa retailers. Pero palaging pinapaalala sa ‘kin ng nanay ko na sa pagnenegosyo kailangan mong MANGARAP, MANIWALA, at MAGSIKAP. Tumatak ‘yun sa isip ko. Hanggang sa maka-attend ako ng mga trainings at nakarinig ng mga kwento ng mga nagtagumpay sa pagnenegosyo at sinabi ko sa sarili ko na one day makakapag-share din ako kung paano kami naging sucessful sa business.” said Luri Mary Grace.
Eventually, the HoneyMAN-C calamansi concentrate with ginger, turmeric, and calamansi puree gained traction and became known in several markets like San Teodoro, Calapan City, and other retail outlets in nearby provinces such as Occidental Mindoro, Romblon, Batangas, and Manila.
Calamansi used in making the products are outsourced from different municipalities in the province. Oriental Mindoro is known as the Calamansi King which contributes around 99% of the total annual volume of harvested calamansi in the region.
Keeping up with the market
As their products grow in demand, the firm hit a bump as they struggled to keep up with the orders. Operating with only one unit of hydraulic press, one unit calamansi extractor, 2 units heavy duty stove, and 2 stainless steel wok, the firm could only produce 850 bottles per month. This process required manual stirring, which is labor-intensive and danger-prone. They also used to process their calamansi on cemented sinks, and plastic tables, which do not meet industry standards.
This limited the firm’s capability to penetrate more markets and attain potential income.
Not strangers to DOST
The Fajutags were not strangers to DOST’s various programs and services as Lurynith is a member of the Bigaan Agrarian Reform Community Organization (BARCO), a community-based enterprise which received S&T assistance for its virgin coconut oil production back in 2014.
The family knew that DOST will be able to help them improve their operations. In 2020, they sought DOST’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) assistance. They were able to acquire production equipment and accessories such as double-jacketed kettle for sterilization and pasteurization of the calamansi extract, additional calamansi extractor for increased capacity of production, stainless steel sink table, stainless steel working table, and 2,500 pieces of 350-mL glass bottles for packaging.
With enough savings, the sisters turned their piggery into their new production facility. The firm also received productivity consultancy assistance through the DOST’s Manufacturing Productivity Extension Program (MPEx). This, together with several food safety and cGMP trainings, helped them attain a GMP-compliant production process and facility.
“Napakarami po ng naitulong ng DOST sa amin kasi nagkaroon kami ng sapat na equipment at nag-improve ‘yung processing capacity namin. Dahil din po sa MPEX at seminars, mas naging handa kami sa pagpapa-LTO (license to operate).” said Lurie.
Sweet taste of success
Now with the procured equipment and production accessories, they were able able to produce more products and provide more livelihood opportunities to others. It currently employs 8-10 workers which reaches up to 15 workers during peak season. Moreover, through the technical guidance of MPEx consultants, they were able to obtain FDA-LTO certification which helped them penetrate other potential markets.
From 850 bottles, it can now produce up to more than 3,100 bottles of 350ml and 500ml HoneyMAN-C per month, translating to a 252% increase in productivity. Aside from physical stores, BCDC also now sells their products online through resellers on known e-commerce platforms such as Lazada and Shopee, and through DOST-MIMAROPA’s free to use online platform, mimaropaventures.ph. BCDC is also affiliated with a partner handling the export of its products.
From two trees, the Fajutag family decided to expand their calamansi farm to become less dependent in outsourcing raw materials and make sure that they have enough raw materials to keep up with the demand.
They are currently applying for a Certificate of Product Registration at FDA and hopes that they will be able to export on their own in the future.
In this COVID-19 pandemic, people need for healthier options for food, especially those rich in vitamin C. BCDC Agricultural Products provides that not only in Oriental Mindoro, but also in nearby areas in the region.