Partnerships boost innovative F&B research in Brunei

UTB Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Zohrah Sulaiman, Artesian Fresh Sdn Bhd Director Kelvin Lim and Kitani Farmers Market Sdn Bhd CEO Jean Noel Forquet in a group photo. - BB

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/ANN) The food and beverage (F&B) industry plays an important role in Brunei’s economy, which is rapidly developing on a national and international scale.

As the F&B industry faces numerous challenges with off-site analytical laboratories, solutions are urgently required to overcome these challenges to ensure high productivity and sustainable production.

Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) yesterday signed an Exclusive Service Agreement with Artesian Fresh Sdn Bhd and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kitani Farmers Market Sdn Bhd as a step towards delivering solutions and innovative F&B research through a collaborative effort.

Signing on behalf of UTB was UTB Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Zohrah Sulaiman, while Artesian Fresh was represented by its Director Kelvin Lim. CEO Jean Noel Forquet signed on behalf of Kitani Farmers Market.

Under the project, UTB’s Centre for Research on Agri-Food Science and Technology (CrAFT) and Artesian Fresh Sdn Bhd will work together to establish an on-site analytical laboratory at a natural water plant premise in Tutong district.

The analytical lab will be equipped with testing facilities to ensure water produced from the plant is clean and safe as well as aesthetically pleasing in terms of colour, odour and appearance in line with World Health Organization (WHO) standards.

The laboratory will facilitate routine qualitative and quantitative analysis on water test samples to ensure a high quality and productivity of produced water.

This features a significant aspect in the packaging and development of product leading to the commercialisation for both local and international market by KFM Sdn Bhd. The collaboration anticipates future activities and opportunities that will support the local economy and provide more employment prospects.

Professor Dr Zohrah said, “The collaboration with Kitani Farmers Market and Artesian Fresh has three-fold effects in line with UTB’s vision of becoming a ‘Global University Impacting Society’, supporting the nation’s drive to realise Brunei’s Vision 2035 and as a key enabler of UTB engagement initiatives with private sectors.”

She said, “Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah in his titah during an unscheduled visit to UTB, mentioned its role in imparting knowledge and in its ability to resolve contemporary issues through research efforts. I believe collaboration will offer additional dimension of opportunities for all parties.

“The synergy will develop efficient solutions for Agri-Food related industries.

“UTB always welcomes local partners to collaborate in areas of common interest, exploring opportunities to address a wide array of challenges of which many cannot be solved only by entities such as universities, governments, and industries operating alone, but could be addressed by resource alignment and collaboration.

"University collaborations have evolved tremendously where we are not just focussing on longstanding commitment to serve the public good but also help attract the resources, relationships and recognition necessary for these institutions to be competitive.

“Collaborations or partnerships are becoming more essential for institutions to adapt and thrive amid economic volatility, demographic shifts and technological developments, ” she added.

Meanwhile, Kelvin Lim said, “We hope that the establishment of the laboratory will help expedite our product developments. We hope to work with members of this university to introduce local fruit flavoured natural mineral water into our product range as our next collaboration.

“The laboratory will facilitate drinking water standards for the country. With substantial parts of our body made up of water, it is only right to prioritise the quality of water that we drink. We hope that this laboratory will eventually be certified.”

On the sustainability front, he said, “Artesian Fresh is conscious of the extensive use of plastic bottles in the industry. As a company, it is our mission to become a carbon-neutral production plant as soon as we can.

“Bottled mineral water is more sustainable than bolted drinking water sourced from the tap. There is no economical alternative to transport mineral water from source to the table other than using plastic bottles.

“On the other hand, delivering processed tap water using plastic bottles for resale is just a waste of resources. I trust this view can be assessed and solutions on developing biodegradable mineral water bottles made from local vegetation like sago and tapioca can be considered.”

He hopes that UTB can look into using bamboos surrounding the water plant as a more sustainable biochar or carbon to replace existing carbon filters.

Through the MOU, Jean Noel Forquet hopes to work hand in hand with UTB and call upon the young creative minds to design and develop a website that will enable Kitani Farmers Market Sdn Bhd to introduce its Prime Natural Water not only locally but to international market. - Borneo Bulletin/Asia News Network

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