In fact, in a study by Dr. Esterlita L. Galanoga of the Cagayan State University (CSU) and Ritchie Rivera of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Region 2 (DA-BFAR-2), it was shown that the production of tocino and longganisa from tilapia offers consumers another variety of food products that are a healthy substitute for pork tocino and longganisa.
Dr. Calanoga and Rivera are co-authors of a report, "Tilapia Tocino and Longganisa Production in Cagayan North", which they presented at a science forum in Los Baños, Laguna, under the auspices of the Los Baños-based Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development (DOST-PCAMRD). The 2009 National Aquatic Resources Research and Development System (NARRDS) investment forum and Aquatic Technology Competition and Marketplace (ATCOM) were also highlighted in that forum.
Dr. Calanoga and Rivera explained to their audience that the the technology is simple and can be adopted by small – or medium-scale entrepreneurs for it does not require complicated equipment. They also added that the study was an offshoot of the process of developing value-added products from tilapia fillet that were started by Dr. Calanoga and Angel Encarnacion in 2002.
The research project raised "to provide handy and nutritive food items with exportable potentials that would cater the needs of different consumers."
During the founding anniversary of Cagayan Valley last year, BFAR conducted a taste test of processed tilapia at a cooking demonstration witnessed by fast-food operators and others engaged in the food processing industry as well students of hotel and restaurant management.
A blind test showed the tilapia burger, tocino and longganisa tasted better than traditional meat-based food products, and some restaurants even said they would introduce this new preparation on their menu.
Today, tilapia tocino and longganisa are being produced in Cagayan to provide ready-to-cook food items for busy career mothers.
Now available at BFAR-Region 2 in vacuum-packed containers, the products are sold to employees of BFAR and other agencies in the region. Eyed as potential markets are hotels, big restaurants, supermarkets, and big food chains.
Five pieces of longganisa and a 200-gram pack of tocino each cost PhP 65.00, but costs are expected to go down once production goes full-blast.
To sustain the fledgling tilapia tocino and longganisa industry, Dr. Calanoga and Rivera recommended the following:
- Fish farmers should raise tilapia used in making the two products to a size of 400 to 500 grams to increase the recovery rate of fillet.
- Future entrepreneurs should have a regular source of tilapia from farms to get a more stable price and for sustainability of production.
- The government should provide financial assistance to those interested in growing tilapia and processing value-added products.