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YAP, Federated States of Micronesia (Fall 2000 - Pacific Business Center News)---Noni, cultivated on many Pacific islands, is rapidly growing in popularity throughout the world as a multi-purpose healing herb.

Noni has been shown to be effective in lowering blood pressure, increasing body energy, and alleviating pain.

One estimate claims there are a million noni users in the United States. This figure is expected to increase rapidly over the next five years.

Given the growing popularity of noni, Margie Falanruw at the Yap Institute of Natural Science asked professor C.L. Cheshire of the Pacific Business Center at the University of Hawai‘i-Manoa’s School of Business Administration to do research on the subject. One of Falanruw’s clients wanted to know the economic potential of growing noni grown on Yap.

Cheshire was able to report several significant findings.

First, while there is a large international market for noni, the market for noni in Hawai‘i appears to be saturated. Hawai‘i health food stores report that noni is a "good seller, but not great."

Noni can be sold in several forms: as raw fruit (to be processed), as juice, and as capsules. There is, however, a huge price difference between the raw noni plant and processed noni products. The fruit sells for only $.50 a pound, but the noni juice retails for $30 to $40 per 32-ounce bottle.

The fruit’s juice can easily be obtained through fermentation in aluminum drums, eliminating the need for machinery.

However, when noni is sold as a juice, it should be pasteurized.

Noni can also be processed into capsules.

To produce capsules, however, an area needs to be set up to dry out the noni until it is a powdered substance.

While commercial potential for processed noni exists on Yap and other islands in Micronesia, its production requires a reliable supply of raw noni. The equipment is used to ferment and pasteurize the noni if sold as a juice. Space is needed to dry noni if sold as a powder for capsules.

Either production method will involve significant capital costs that must be carefully estimated.

Furthermore, anyone interested in producing noni products needs to identify wholesalers and distributors who will buy and sell noni.

Despite the rapidly growing demand for noni, there is also a substantial supply of noni on the market.

Consequently, it is not a given that noni will sell itself.

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