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High contents of beta carotene and antioxidant in Gac fruit or scientifically known as Momordica cochinchinensis have prompted a team of researchers at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) to produce gac-based icecream product called BetaGac.
UMT Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Chm. Dr. Marinah Mohd Ariffin said that the icecream product is good for health and can reduce the risks of eye and heart health.
She said that the product is formulated from the membranes around the seeds, and these membranes contain high contents of beta carotene and antioxidant that can reduce the risk of eye and heart health.
“We believe the icecream will generate high demand from the premium food industry because of its health benefits.
“However, the plants are limited in Malaysia as the fruit is not yet widely known, while in Vietnam and Thailand it is very popular and even is called the superfruit or heavenly fruit due to its health benefits.
“Hence, UMT is willing to collaborate with the state government to help farmers and villagers cultivate the plants as another source of income for them.”
The research was funded by the Commercialization Initiative Fund (CIF), and the team consisted of six researchers, Dr. Faridah Yahya as the leader, Assoc. Prof. Ts. Dr. Fauziah Tufail Ahmad, Dr. Ramisah Mohd Shah, Dr. Shayuti Mohamed Adnan, Dr. Azlinzuraini Ahmad, and Dr. Sarina.
Meanwhile Dr. Faridah said that gac can be harvested within in five months’ time, but presently the plants have not been cultivated on a large scale for commercial purpose.
She added that the plants have been grown at UMT Natural Research Station at Bukit Kor, Marang, for use in the innovative product and research related to crops. We can provide guidance to interested communities.
“The potential is great and it should be explored by the communities in Terengganu because the fruit is easy to care for and the demand from the industry is high,” she said.
She said that a small container of BetaGac (100 millilitres) sells at about RM7 to RM8 in big cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valleys.
“However, as promotion, we have been selling BetaGac since 1 November for RM5, with part of the cost subsidized by the commercialisation grant,” she said.
UMT aims to sell the license to a local distributor or an icecream manufacturer and has established a collaborative networking between industry and university and provided several business models based on market demands.
Dr. Faridah encourages local icecream manufacturers especially those looking for a unique product that advocates a healthy lifestyle to contact the team for further discussion.
Corporate Communications Office
Universiti Malaysia Terengganu