DOST-TRC to Explore Cheaper Flour Substitute From Sago

After a new round of oil price increases, news of cheaper pandesal from locally abundant flour alternative is a welcome respite.

This was the report of Dennis Cunanan, Director General of the DOST’s Technology Resource Center, after conferring with the officials of DOST Region XI, DOST’s PCIERRD and scientists of UP Mindanao.

sago starch photo

Photo by Dick Culbert

The flour alternative is derived from the sago palm (metroxylon sagu) which grows abundantly in tropical lowland forest areas and fresh-water swamps across Southeast Asia and New Guinea. UP Mindanao reported that, in the Philippines, there are about 800,000 to 1.4M hectares of probable sites of harvestable sago.

“Sago starch is a totally viable alternative to wheat starch,” Cunanan explained. “And it can be sold at half the price of wheat. And if initial data is right, we foresee that this will bode well for consumers and might bring down the price of the pandesal and other bread.”

UP scientist Dr. Dulce Flores, the primary advocate of the product, reported that apart from being a cheaper alternative, sago flour is free of gluten, a form of protein found in wheat products. It has been reported that about 1% of wheat-eating populations suffer from sensitivity to gluten and that the US is the number one consumer of gluten-free bread, a hint at the product’s export potential and something TRC is keen to pursue.

“We are now in the process of verifying the data that we have and will be looking at how Malaysia goes about in processing sago flour for consumer consumption,” Cunanan stated, “as Malaysia is known to have developed efficient and economically viable processing equipment and procedures for the product.”

Source: Hernani S. Yap,