September 21, 2022 at Manopakorn Nitithada Room, 12th Floor, Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce – The jelly drink from fragrant coconut juice, the product developed by the Department of Food Technology, Faculty of Technology, Khon Kaen University won the first prize in the category of food from the Agri Plus Award 2022: Creative Agriculture Promotion and Enhancing Innovation. The drink was a product under the research project for manufacturing process and study of food shelf-life age. It is made from fragrant coconut juice with carrageenans.
The Agri Plus Award 2022: Creative Agriculture Promotion and Enhancing Innovation is a contest of Thai agricultural product innovations for Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s trophies, and prizes totaling over 300,000 baht. The contest is organized by the Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce, and the objectives are to enhance value adding of innovation products from Thai farms towards international markets, to encourage new entrepreneurs to produce more agricultural-based products using innovations, and to build perception and inspiration for propelling Thai agricultural products with the use of innovation.
Dr. Patimakorn Khlaiprasit (Left)
Dr. Patimakorn Khlaiprasit from the Department of Food Technology, Faculty of Technology, Khon Kaen University, revealed about the success this time, “The jelly drink from fragrant coconut juice is the outcome of collaboration between a team of students and a team of researchers from the Department of Food Technology, Faculty of Technology, Khon Kaen University, and the entrepreneur, COCO Damnoen Co. Ltd.
“At the first start, the entrepreneur came to us, saying that the company is from Rachaburi that had a coconut plantation. They wanted to manufacture some tasty products that are easy to consume. They were interested to manufacture jelly in package. We told them the amount of investment in order to produce something they wanted. We recommended that they provide a portion of research fund, and the other portion could be obtained from the government. At that time in 2017, there were programs that supported technological and innovation development (ITAP) for Khon Kaen University that would be available for our project. We also asked the company for including two classes of students to join.”
Following this, Dr. Patimakorn developed a project for developing the production process and studying the shelf life of jelly drink from 100% fragrant coconut juice mixed with carrageenans. Undergraduate students in the course, “Specific Problems in Food Technology” and graduate students assisted in carrying out the research.
“Our job linked the requirement of the entrepreneur with instruction. We wanted to help the entrepreneur to solve the problem, or build a food innovation that they were interested in. At the same time, the experts or researchers also had a chance to learn and build new bodies of knowledge for the students, leading to the learning process in instruction and research. The path prior to receiving the prize involved changes of formulas, disinfection methods, heating methods, and manufacturing methods. We spent 5 years, during which period we acquired learning processes, which we continuously improved until we obtained the final formula, the jelly drink from 100% fragrant coconut juice, with no mixture of preservatives. It is naturally sweet and can be kept for 2 years in room temperature. The company then carried out the ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) step and submitted the product to the contest event until we are finally awarded the first prize for the food category at the Agri Plus Award 2022.”
Besides the success in food innovation, another success is the collaboration with good understanding between researchers and entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurs usually expect the end product of the type they want. It doesn’t usually end like this due to time constraint. Therefore, entrepreneurs must understand the researchers, and vice versa, the researchers must understand the entrepreneur. This means the two parties must cooperate and realize that they need to wait. The lecturers used the entrepreneur’s needs as a research problem for the students, and adjusted instruction so that the students truly realized the problem. They understood the condition of work with entrepreneurs and the problems that arose. We had to adjust and listened to the entrepreneur to know what they really wanted. Sometimes, we, as researchers might insist and hold on to the theory. In reality, the entrepreneur might not be requiring much. They just wanted something that they could continue with. Therefore, we had to adjust or find some means for effective cooperation. If there is any entrepreneur who is interested to consult us, we are very happy to help. Please contact us directly at the Department of Food Technology, Faculty of Technology, Khon Kaen University,” ended Dr. Patimakorn.
News: Rawiporn Saisaenthong