Sugar is one of nine basic household needs which cannot be separated from public attention. One of the sugar types favored by the public is palm sugar. The public commonly consumes palm sugar for ingredients of their dishes and the beverages. Nowadays, palm sugar industries have been widely spread across all regencies in Indonesia.
Palm tree (Arenga saccaharifera) is one of Indonesian biodiversities which has been produced in the form of sugar since a long time ago. The development of brown sugar produced from palm is still rare in the market. Most of the brown sugar production delivered to the market which comes from coconut is mixed with cane sugar to lower the production cost. Unfortunately, it is done without considering its nutrition. Besides, the sugar packaging is done carelessly without considering the cleanliness, packaging, and measurement standard as is found in the market. The carelessness results in the low quality of brown sugar. Based on Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS), Indonesian export rate of brown sugar to the United Kingdom as the biggest importer country in 2016 has increased by around US$657.800 or reached 113.7% compared to other countries. It means that brown sugar demand rate is high in the global market.
As a result, five students of University of Darussalam Gontor tried to develop an innovative product from palm sugar, labeled as GLORINS. The development of product was funded by Ministry of Research and Technology and Higher Education through Program Kreatifitas Mahasiswa (PKM) entitled ‘GLORINS: An Innovative Product of Brown Sugar packaged in PAF-paper as an Effort to Increase Indonesia’s Local Product Competitiveness in the Global Market’. The students are Muhamad Iqbal Munir (student of Agro-technology Class of 2016), Resky Ramadhan (student of Islamic Economics Class of 2016), Sena Fadjar (student of Informatics Engineering Class of 2016), Badrus Sholeh (student of Informatics Engineering Class of 2016), and Agus Hidayat (student of Islamic Economics Class of 2017).
Palm sugar is chosen because it has several advantages compared to coconuts. The first reason is that it contains low calorie. In 100 grams of palm sugar, there are 369 kcal and 0.6 gr of protein while there are 376 kcal and 0 gr of protein in coconut sugar. Moreover, the sugar palm has more solid taste than coconut sugar. This is also an effort to preserve sugar palm since there is low interest from manufacturers to produce sugar from the pure palm. As a consequence, there are merely few palm trees planted.
The innovation lies on the packaging which uses PAF-paper in the form of aluminum foil wrapped by paper which makes the sugar palm become more long-lasting. The filtering process is done three times in order to obtain pure sugar. The sugar palm is in the small packaging of 5 grams/ pack. The outer packaging uses zipper to lengthen the storage period. There are two variants of flavors and net weight, e.i. original and peanut flavors in 100 grams and 250 grams. Having interesting packaging and variants, the sugar palm is not limited to be used as ingredients in cooking but also for healthy snacks. It is suitable for diabetics and is also a good energy intake for mountain climbers since it has 99% of carbohydrate.
Nowadays, the marketplace of sugar palm is in Ponorogo especially for lecturers and students who are approximately 3000 in number. There are also santri at Darussalam Gontor Modern Islamic Institution around Indonesia in total of 2200. In promoting the product overseas, there is a product advertisement through IKPM (Ikatan Keluarga Pondok Modern) at overseas branches which consists of 13 branches on e-commerce website www.glorins.id. In addition, there is a process of introducing the product to Japan through Elok Trading Japan LLC which has the head office in Kido Ouru City in which the company is in collaboration with Science and Technology Faculty of UNIDA Gontor.
GLORINS product is in the development process to achieve several standards. The standards of processed product to meet in order for it to be delivered to the market are trade license, halal certificate, ingredient expenditure license through laboratory experiment, food security test, etc. Hopefully, the product can be marketed widely as well globally and become an inspiration for students of UNIDA Gontor as well as other universities as a means to innovate and empower themselves inside campus. [Iqbal / Trans. Eka / Ed. Nurrahma]