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Costa Rican co-ops using agricultural waste for cosmetics and snacks

04 Jul 2017

In Costa Rica members of two co-operatives are using agricultural waste to develop a new range of products such as cosmetics and snacks.

The agroindustrial project is financed by the country’s Higher Education Council (CONARE), which includes various institutions and universities.

The innovative approach involves teaching smallholder producers to develop food products and cosmetics by using waste from apples, plums and guavas to produce toppings, energy bars, sauces, soaps and body lotions.

Frutalcoop, one of the co-ops taking part in the project, is using plums and apples for energy bars and salsa sauces while guavas are a key ingredient in their food toppings. Guavas are also used for producing soaps and body lotions.

Twelve producers will receive training and learn about the different characteristics of each product and chemical components. They will then go back to their communities and teach other members of the co-ops.

Patrik Matarrita, general manager of Coopeproguata, the other co-operative involved in the scheme, told La Nacion it was essential for the co-op’s 42 members to diversify their offer. He explained how due to longer periods of draughts and less rain the co-op would often be faced with an overproduction. The phenomenon makes prices more likely to decrease, sometimes by even 50%. Another option is to diversify their offer by processing fruits and using them for marmalades, snacks and other products.

The programme started in 2016 and will run throughout 2017. The co-ops are currently exploring where to market their new products.

Photo: members of Costa Rican co-ops involved in the project (c) ITCR