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Dole to repurpose tons of fruit waste

By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter

DOLE Sunshine Co. (DSC) plans to repurpose around 1 million tons of fruit waste generated by its plantations in the Philippines under a recently created corporate venture.

Wei Tze Ooi, Dole Specialty Ingredients (DSI) managing director, told BusinessWorld in an e-mail interview that the pilot plant for the repurposing venture is located in the town of Polomolok, South Cotabato, and is testing the fruit waste with several extraction and drying technologies.

“Around 1 million tons of fruit side streams (fruit waste) are generated each year at Dole’s plantations in the Philippines, which equates to approximately 50,000 40-foot containers. These fruit side streams will be used as feedstock for repurposing and upcycling at DSI,” Mr. Ooi said.

On Oct. 18, DSC and Singapore Economic Development Authority Board (EDB) New Ventures announced DSI as its new corporate venture, which is based in Singapore and has an initial co-investment of $10 million.

According to DSC, the venture was formed in efforts to reduce fruit losses by repurposing fruit parts and side streams into ingredients such as seed oils, fibers, and enzymes that can be used in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmeceutical, food and beverages, and other industries.

Mr. Ooi disclosed that the corporate venture aims to fully utilize the 1 million tons of fruit waste in the Philippines by 2030 at the latest, while the initial phase of DSI’s product portfolio will be comprised of bromelain.

He also mentioned that the repurposing venture of DSI will provide employment to local farmers and communities.

“We also expect to engage with various local partners, including cooperatives and trucking companies, to set up a feedstock collection logistics network, which would also create many new jobs,” Mr. Ooi said.

“There are a lot of valuable nutrients locked in the fruit side streams that are usually discarded. For instance, the peel or seeds are actually more nutritious than the fruit’s pulp itself,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ooi said the repurposing business has a huge potential to become a key contributor to the future revenues of DSC.

He added that DSI’s target is to use the fruit side streams from Dole plantations across the world, which is estimated to be around 50,000 hectares in size, and includes countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, Sierra Leone, and Sri Lanka.

“DSI has just started so the scale of our operations is still relatively small. However, we see huge potential in this business unit and we aim to become one of the key contributors to DSC’s revenue in five years’ time,” Mr. Ooi said.

“We will work with business-to-business clients from around the world, including the United States, European Union, and Asia, in various industries to provide specialty ingredients that will go into their products. We will also be working with manufacturers, ingredient houses, distributors, etc. on the sales front,” he added.

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