SQU Gets Patent for Novel Date Syrup Product
Sultan Qaboos University has been granted a new patent registered in the US Patent Office for the invention of a new food product using date syrup. The novel process has been developed by Dr. Nasser Al-Habsi, Assistant Professor, and Prof. Mohammad Shafiur Rahman from the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences.
Traditionally date-syrup is extracted from date-flesh and available in the local market. It is consumed as dip or spread on the top of other food products. It is a challenge to transform date-syrup into semi-rigid mass by crystallization of the sugars and its stability in the viscous mass during storage. At normal conditions (i.e. room temperature) the process may takes couple of years and even the product quality would be very poor. The complex process could be solved by developing new innovative processing methods with appropriate conditions. This innovation consisted of new product date-set-syrup (very appealing in terms of color, texture and spread-ability) and its processing conditions (i.e. optimum temperature of sugar crystallization, developing seeds, seed-syrup mass ratio, mixing methods and crystallization time).
The new innovative processing method could be used by the date-processing industry to produce a new product as Date-Set-Syrup. This will have high market value as compare to the date syrup. In addition, it could diversify the product lines of the date fruits and the local food industry could be economically benefited. Set-honey is commercially available and commonly consumed in North America and Europe. Therefore, there is a big market for the product in North America, Europe and Austral Asia. Dr. Al-Habsi and Prof. Rahman is now exploring the prospects of commercializing the product thru licensing from SQU to the food industry or establishing a new product line in the exiting date processing industry. Date fruit is the major crop of Sultanate and it has huge economic value. This innovation could play a role in diversifying food products from locally available raw material, and could contribute to the agricultural economic diversity of the country.