Invention of cacao beans sensor device expected to uplift PH chocolate industry » Manila Bulletin News

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By Martin Sadongdong

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) hailed a group of researchers who invented an electric-based sensor which can instantly measure the quality of freshness of cacao beans, saying the device could boost not only the quality of the said beans but also the chocolates made here in the Philippines.

(photo by DOST)

Researchers from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) led by Engr. Reynaldo P. Gregorio developed the sensor through the project “Development of Sensor Devices for Cacao Quality Measurement.” It was funded by DOST’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) based in Los Baños, Laguna.

The DOST, in a bulletin post over the weekend, said one can already assess the freshness of harvested cacao bean by measuring its sugar content and alcohol content through a few drops of the bean’s fluids into the sensor’s receptacle.

Aside from the freshness of cacao beans, the DOST said the sensor device can also determine if the bean is adulterated, or of poor quality, by assessing its water content and salinity. A programmable software does the measurement and shows the results in a liquid crystal display similar to laptop monitors.

Gregorio said the invented technology could be useful to suppliers and buyers of freshly harvested cacao beans and even to processors of chocolates.

“High quality and good-tasting chocolates come from quality freshly harvested cacao beans. It is important that the raw materials are assessed prior to processing.  Cacao beans with high sugar content and has not exhibited onset of fermentation is regarded as high quality,” Gregorio said.

“Using cacao quality sensor will encourage growers to command a better price. Buyers will be assured that the quality of the beans sold to them is within acceptable range. Similarly, processors will benefit from using high-quality cacao beans as raw materials for chocolate processing,” he added.

The DOST said the sensor has been tested in Davao and plans have been made to test it in other cacao-growing regions in the country in the coming months. The patent application for the technology has also been arranged, it added.

The local chocolate industry has been hailed as one of the best in the world with Davao City being dubbed as the cacao and chocolate capital of the Philippines.

Davao-based chocolate factory Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation even bagged the silver award in the Academy of Chocolate Awards 2017 in London in April.

Last year, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said a total of 6,262.77 metric tons (MT) of cacao were produced in the Philippines which equates to an annual demand of 50,000 MT.

 

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