(Image grabbed from DTI Consumer Care's Facebook page)

MANILA – A new variant of pandesal was launched on Wednesday to address the rising cost of wheat flour.

Called "Pinoy coco pandesal," the new variant was an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Philippine Baking Industry Group, and VCO Philippines.

"Our response (to the rising wheat flour prices and some problems in importation), we considered the possibility of using coconut flour which is high fiber, gluten-free, grain-free flour that is excellent for keto diets. Coconut flour contains naturally occurring dietary fiber," said DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña during the launch at a supermarket chain in Quezon City.

He added that coconut flour is more calorie-dense than traditional grain-based flour. It is also a good source of protein, fat, fiber, iron, and potassium.

Through the help of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) and the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI), nutrient analysis of the coco-enriched pandesal using coconut flour as a non-wheat flour alternative was conducted.

The DOST chief said coco flour is an ideal alternative to wheat flour because of the steady supply of ingredients, and availability of the technologies to process it.

Using coco flour will create a sustained and steady supply chain, benefitting Filipino companies, he said.

According to De la Peña, the Philippine Baking Industry Group initiated efforts to create coco pandesal using a combination of wheat flour and coco flour.

He said a serving of the Pinoy coco pandesal (25 grams per piece) contributes 3 percent of the daily requirement for energy; 4 percent of protein; 10 percent of iron; and 8 percent of Vitamin A, based on the requirement of a 19- to 29-year-old male.

Meanwhile, the FNRI is also looking at other potential substitutes to wheat flour, such as sweet potato, cassava, banana, and arrowroot, De la Peña said. (PNA)