Success in business knows no age. Young entrepreneurs can be found in any industry, even in agribusiness, and they offer the public innovative products and creative marketing ideas.

Mil Matienzo, 20, a business management student of the Ateneo de Manila University, started RambuCo together with some of his classmates. It is a rambutan-based food product and beverage business.

Matienzo grew up seeing hundreds of kaings of rambutan every harvesting season since his parents had a contract buying business in Dolores, Quezon. He observed that the fruits’ seeds were thrown away and considered as waste because only the flesh (aril) of the fruit is eaten. However, proper roasting of the seeds can transform it to something profitable. RambuCo aims to maximize the use of rambutan fruit by processing it into ready-to-consume food products.

Since rambutan fruits are always eaten in raw form, RambuCo offers a different eating experience for this familiar fruit by developing its two debut products.

A bottle of sweet and tangy RambuJam.

RambuJam is made up of the fruit flesh that is cooked and sweetened to prolong its shelf life. It is thick and pulpy with a lemony scent. The jam is a fusion of sweet, sour, and tangy tastes that go well with biscuits and breads. The second product, RambuDrink, is a ready-to-drink beverage brewed from properly roasted rambutan seeds and mixed with milk and sugar. The beverage has an aroma that is like a hybrid of coffee and tea, and while it tastes like milk tea, it has a unique nutty flavor.

Rambutan is high in moisture, which makes it a highly perishable fruit; therefore, processing it is very ideal. Its flesh is a good energy source because of its carbohydrate and sugar content. It also contains minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. Notably, rambutan is a valuable source of Vitamin C; a single fruit can provide up to 33.3% of the recommended daily Vitamin C requirement.

Though its seeds may contain alkaloid, saponin, and tannin, proper processing ensures that toxicity won’t be a problem. Rambutan seeds also contain carbohydrates and protein. It is also hypoglycemic, which means it can help lower blood sugar. There are also trace amounts of minerals such as magnesium and calcium. Moreover, it has oleic acid, a fatty acid that helps lower cholesterol levels and promotes antioxidant production.

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Roasted rambutan seeds.

The business started with an initial investment of Php100,000 and the purchase of 120 kilograms of rambutan for initial production. The selling price for RambuDrink is Php45 per 400 ml bottle while RambuJam is priced at R120 per jar. RambuCo is now establishing a market network to distribute their products; the company also attends various trade fairs.

Though there is much competition in the spread and ready-to- drink industry, RambuCo found its niche in the market by presenting consumers with an alternative to the typical flavors available on the market. In introducing new products, the RambuCo team was advised to be flexible throughout the process, since they could expect to encounter various problems. Matienzo stressed that the strength of their business was this: “RambuCo appeals to the market since Filipinos today are getting more health-conscious about what they consume.”

This appeared without a byline in Agriculture Monthly’s April 2015 issue.