Samoa’s Vailima Debuts Breadfruit Beer In Am. Samoa

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Samoa’s Vailima Debuts Breadfruit Beer In Am. Samoa Tasters give thumbs up to Vailima Natural made with ‘ulu’ flour

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, April 28, 2014) – "Vailima Natural" brewed from the breadfruit or ulu may be in its trial and development phase, but those present at the "Ulu Beer Tasting" last Thursday evening, say it’s time to place it on the market for sale.

Attending the beer tasting event, held at Tony’s Bar & Grill (site of the former Runway Bar) were American Samoa committee members for the Two Samoa talks, GHC Reid & Co. Ltd., officials and other business members of the private sector.

The tasters were united when pointing out the smooth, pleasant taste of the beer, compared to other beer products available on island; and many of the female wine drinkers enjoyed the Vailima Natural as they noted it does not have a bitter after taste.

Lt Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga, who is also acting governor, congratulated GHC Reid & Co. Ltd. for another achievement with their Vailima partners on brewing the beer using the flour made from the breadfruit or ulu.

According to President of GHC Reid & Co. Ltd., Olivia Reid Gillette, Vailima Natural is the culmination of efforts between American Samoa and Samoa —continuing to provide avenues for products to be developed and sold between the islands.

"That’s our goal— to export into the United States and all over the world and we continue to show everyone that the Samoan people are very entrepreneurial," she said.

She asked the beer tasters for feedback for the improvement of the new product.

Taotasi Archie Soliai, marketing officer for the Reid company, said with Vailima Natural, up to 20% of the imported malt has been replaced with locally grown breadfruit flour.

"The brewery is working on trials with even higher breadfruit content including 100% gluten free. However we are limited by the availability of the breadfruit which is still being produced in a small pilot scale mill," he noted.

Taotasi further stated that Samoa Breweries Ltd started working on the concept of using local ingredients back in 2006, but it was not until the SROS (Scientific Research Organization of Samoa) developed their process for making breadfruit flour that it became feasible to brew in commercial quantities.

The main benefits of ulu beer include: supporting local farmers; replacing commercially grown barley with organic, pesticide free breadfruit; utilizing local people — being entirely researched, formulated and developed by Samoans— and, it tastes great, by all accounts.

"Higher breadfruit content brews will eventually be gluten free which is a huge market, but they first need to have reliable flour supply in commercial quantities. Once a sufficient flour supply can be secured and the demand is high, only then can it be available for bottling," said Taotasi.

GHC Reid & Co. Ltd. gives credit to their partner, Samoa Breweries, for their innovative spirit which enabled this product and SROS for their unending creativity in finding solutions and utilizing local resources that benefit and sustain local economies.

BACKGROUND

Commercialization of ‘ulu’ (breadfruit) at an industrial scale for export has yet to occur anywhere in the world. But with ‘gluten free’ one of the latest health food buzz words, the discovery that ulu is gluten free, will open a window of opportunity for a fruit most of the world knows little about.

The Ulu Summit, held in 2012, was sponsored by the American Samoa Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the A.S. Dept. of Commerce, the University of Hawaii Pacific Business Center Program and the U.S. Economic Development Agency (EDA) National University Center — and designed to introduce breadfruit to the world market.

Organizers told Samoa News at the time that the Ulu Summit was looking to explore opportunities to develop and refine ulu processing by taking advantage of the ‘gluten free’ connection, which has the potential to provide major economic development, food security and sustainability benefits for small island countries, including American Samoa.

Breadfruit has been dehydrated and processed successfully into flour in Samoa, the Philippines and Jamaica. However, efforts to expand the processing to a sufficiently industrialized scale for the introduction of breadfruit flour in the U.S. market as a gluten free food product has not been tried.

The few countries developing breadfruit flour in the Pacific have yet to connect with a major distribution network in the U.S.

Through the joint efforts of the ASG Department of Commerce deputy director, Lelei Peau and University of Hawai’i Pacific Business Center Program (PBCP) senior business manager, Dr. C.L. Cheshire, FoodSource G.H. Robinson — one of the largest logistics and distribution companies for food products in the U.S. — was a presenter at the Ulu Summit.

The presentation by FoodSource’s Sean Nelsen, featured the gluten free market and distribution strategies with potential growth demand for gluten free products. (Two of FoodSource’s major clients are Subway Sandwiches and Trader Joe’s.)

The Ulu Summit was said to bring research expertise, food engineering and manufacturing technical capacity, market experience and food security strategies together.

Unfortunately, it would seem with the change of the American Samoa administration —from the Gov. Togiola Tulafono admin to the current Gov. Lolo M. Moliga admin — there was a loss of momentum on the project, and the interest in the project faded in American Samoa. However, the enthusiasm of the teams assembled by PBCP didn’t.

In December 2013, Samoa News reported that PBCP took the show on the road and found an equally enthusiastic partner in Micronesia. The Ulu project details were presented to the 19th Micronesian Chief Executives Summit, comprising the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI), the Territory of Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and its States, Yap, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Chuuk; the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI); and Republic of Palau.

The Micronesian chief executives endorsed the development of a breadfruit industry led by the Commonwealth of the Marianas Islands after hearing the PBCP presentation — a similar presentation to the one at the Ulu Summit in American Samoa.

At the time, PBCP director, Dr. Tusi Avegalio told Samoa News, "Though I'm happy that we've finally got the traction and support we need to move on the Ulu initiative, it's with somewhat of a heavy heart that I realize that at the time there were other more pressing priorities for American Samoa.

"Be that as it may, the CNMI is taking the lead for Micronesia. We still would like for American Samoa together with Samoa to form the southern cluster for Polynesia and the south Pacific in general as the project expands.

"I still look forward to the opportunity to revisit the initiative with our Government. There will always be an open pathway to all that we do," he said.

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