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IAST pushing local products to outshine imports; ready for GuyTIE 2020

by Gwen Evelyn

Head of Marketing at the Institute of Applied Science and Technology, Raveena Mangal.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — November 15, 2019 — What started out as a quest to develop local products and add value has turned into a thriving and growing industry today.

Cereals, personal-care products and condiments are now all being produced locally at the highest standards and export-ready quality. This is thanks to the work being done at the University of Guyana’s (UG) Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST), the institution at the helm of several local companies—Morning Glory Inc., Rupununi Essence Inc. and Pakaraima Flavours.

The research and development organisation has been around for over 20 years, and in that time, it has continued its drive to develop and perfect local products and enable them to meet or surpass internationally competitive standards.

Ms. Raveena Mangal is the Head of Marketing at the IAST. According to her, “What we do is research, and we develop products that are sustainable and utilise science and technology.” This is all being undertaken under the Directorship of world-renowned food scientist, Professor Suresh Narine.

“What we do is strive to create products and processes which utilise sustainable technology. We show that local products can be better than imported products, not just in quality, but appearance, sustainable technology, sustainable science, and economics as well,” the Head of Marketing said.

A standout product developed by IAST is ‘Morning Glory’ breakfast cereal, which is a big hit among local retailers and consumers and has good export potential. “Morning Glory has become quite a household name now and it’s a molasses-flavoured rice cereal,” Ms. Mangal explained.

Another product that the Institute has developed is the Rupununi Essence facial cleanser made from crabwood oil, coconut oil and lemon grass oil, which is the first product they commercialised. This was done through a partnership with the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs and the Medicine from Trees Group from Annai in Guyana’s Rupununi District.

“This is a women’s group that has previously produced crabwood oil. IAST went in through the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs and helped in packaging, in marketing, in branding, and in production through injecting science and technology in a manner which would increase the quality that they were producing in soaps,” Ms. Mangal disclosed. She said that all proceeds from this product go back to the indigenous communities through the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB).

‘Pakaraima Flavours’ is another popular line of products they produce. “Pakaraima Flavours produces ketchup and salad dressings that are made from sundried tomatoes that are grown on our very own mountains in Region Eight by the indigenous communities there,” Ms. Mangal stated, noting that these products are the perfect combination of sweet and healthy as they contain 50 percent less sugar than imported brands.

According to the Head of Marketing, the quality of these products is exceptional because they were produced according to strict quality standards. “Morning Glory has just actually won the GNBS National Quality Assurance Award for overall quality in agro-processing, and for green initiative. That being said, it speaks to the standard of production that we have at Morning Glory Inc., and to all our other products as well,” she noted.

The IAST is also working on expanding the brands it is helping to develop. A heart-healthy nutrition drink called ‘Sak’ is being made from the derivatives of the purple potato and is being prepared for the market.

“We have new products in the pipeline for all our existing lines,” Ms. Mangal said. She announced that most of these new products will be available at the Guyana Trade and Investment Exhibition (GuyTIE) 2020 where the IAST will seek maximum exposure of its best products.

Ms. Mangal is hopeful that the event, which is slated for May 2020, will create new business opportunities for the various brands. They participated in the first event in 2018, and according to Ms. Mangal, “We did find it interesting. It was one that allowed us to be exposed to a number of exporters and importers, so it gave us that exposure to them. We were able to build come contacts and showcase our products—not just to a local audience, but to an international audience as well.”

She stressed that IAST is looking forward to participating in GuyTie 2020 to showcase that their products are export-ready, build our contacts “and get our products out there.”