The seeds or kernels of pili (Canarium ovatum) are edible nuts, thus, the words “pili nuts” are derived. However, pili nuts are not just for consumption. Let’s first look at the characteristics of pili as well as its uses.
The pili tree is regarded as an organically grown tree (without any application of chemicals, pesticides, and fungicides for the duration of growth, fruit production, and harvest). The average tree starts bearing fruits six to seven years after planting with an estimated average fruit yield of 1,000-2,000 fruits per tree. However, there are certain varieties that bear flower at three to four years after planting. Pili trees could grow and last for a century.
Pili trees vary much in their fruit-bearing capacity. The poor-bearing trees may produce 500 fruits each or less, and the high-yielding or heavy fruit producers can give 3,000 to 5,000 fruits per season. The older the tree, the more fruits it bears. It is estimated that an average tree produces 33 kilograms of pili nuts in one year.
The pili fruit is a drupe, 4-7 centimeter long, 2.3-3.8 centimeter in diameter and has a weight of 15.7-45.7 grams. The skin is smooth, thin, shiny, and turns purplish black when the fruit ripens. The pulp is fibrous, fleshy, and greenish yellow with a pointed shape-end hard thick shell. Within the shell is an embryo seed with thin brownish fibrous coating.
Uses of pili
Bicol (Region V) accounts for 82 percent of national pili production, the bulk of which comes from Sorsogon, hence, the province has been dubbed as “commodity champion” for pili.
The processed pili kernel is delicious, thus, it can be used in the preparation of many food products. It is also a source of edible oil of excellent quality for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and for salad dressing. The pulp of pili is used as vegetable, pickle, flour, puree, sauce, and feeds for swine. The shell is used as fuel, growing medium for orchids and anthuriums, and crafted as fashion accessories. The resin is used as lacquer, varnish adhesive, and manila elemi. The trunk is made into furniture and wood panels. With these various uses, there is no doubt that pili is considered a high-value commercial crop.
The Philippines is the only country that produces and processes pili in commercial quantity (Coronel, 1978) and has the monopoly of processed pili in the foreign market. Bicol Region is known for its pili candies and confectioneries which are sold in different product forms and in various packaging containers. These products are exported to Australia, Guam, Canada, Japan, Hongkong, China, UK, Korea, Singapore, Hawaii, Germany, France and the United States.
Because of its high commercial value, the nut is the most important product from the pili. When raw, it may resemble the flavor of roasted pumpkin seed, and when roasted, its mild, nutty flavor and tender crisp texture is superior to that of almond.
Pili nut and the spa industry
The country’s growing spa phenomenon continues to discover ways to natural wellness. One indication is a newly opened spa in Camarines Sur, Bicol, which makes use of the pili fruit in giving a restful experience to “spa-goers.”
Pili nut has good moisturizing properties because of its high moisture content.
One of the pioneers in the Philippine spa industry accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT), “Nurture Spa” opened its branch at the Camarines Sur Water Sports Complex (CWC). This spa chain is known for its use of local ingredients grown from where its branches are located.
Foreign or local personalities who enjoy extreme water sports at the CWC would agree that after having a long, tiring day, revitalizing spa treatments may not just be a luxury but a necessity. This need for a haven of rest in an active environment leads to a bankable niche for Nurture Spa.
“Pili is an excellent antioxidant. It has good moisturizing properties. It is rich in vitamin E. What we do is we crush it to extract its wonderful properties,” stated Cathy Brillantes-Turvill, Nurture Spa’s chief executive officer.
As underscored by the DTI-Bicol, the only known fruit oil of commercial importance in the world market today are olive and palm oils but the pili kernel is another oil source with a big market potential of good use in the manufacture of soaps, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
Offered spa menu
In Nurture Spa, pili is explored and used as a component in services such as facials, body scrubs, and body wraps.
The one-hour “El Ray Malumoy Facial” is a natural relaxing facial of honey, pili, and yogurt capped with a soothing mask of cucumber aloe vera and an acupressure facial massage. According to Brillantes-Turvill, it is perfect in softening and moisturizing sun-burned and wind-hissed skin.
Another spa treatment is the one-hour Daraga Pili Polish, an exfoliating pili scrub that removes dead skin, followed by a mini massage using rich moisturizing aloe vera and coco-butter base.
Also introduced is the Magayon Coco Pili Body Cocoon, which is a one-hour nourishing wrap using freshly squeezed virgin coconut milk and mashed pili nuts bursting with vitamins and minerals.
Sustainability of the pili industry
Posing significance in the spa industry, pili nuts definitely have very high export potential. The demand for pili nuts is high but the supply is barely met. This is due to some limitations in the post-production operation and processing.
In this regard, the presence of Bicol Pili Board, Inc. in the region serves as a vehicle to link various key commodity players to ensure the sustainability of the industry. This is supported by the existence of organized pili growers’ and pili processors’ associations which can be tapped to produce and supply fresh, semi-processed, or processed pili nuts. With the unified efforts of the private sectors earlier mentioned and the government, development of state of the art processing equipment such as depulping machine, sheller, and oil extractor and establishment of collection and processing centers in major producing area were realized.
We have known for a fact that pili nuts can be further processed into a variety of already known confectioneries, baked products and other delicacies. On the other hand, its great prospect in the spa industry is relatively “new.” This in turn around means bright opportunity for growers and processors of pili nuts.
Source and Photo: Christmas B. de Guzman -bar.gov.ph/bardigest April-June 2008 Volume 10 Issue No. 2