HNFAS students Kacie Ho, Kara Yamada, and Jennifer Shido (from left) in the midst of new product development in CTAHR’s food lab.
New papaya-based products ranging from dressings to sauces to chutney bear the brand name Kulanui, which means “university,” but Kulanui is more than just a brand—it’s an innovative UH program that fosters student awareness, inspiration, and opportunity.
The idea of Kulanui occurred to Wayne Fujishige, director of UH Manoa’s Auxiliary Enterprises, over 20 years ago, and Wayne Iwaoka, food scientist in CTAHR’s Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences Department, played an instrumental role in making Kulanui products a reality. Working with local papaya farmers, Iwaoka challenged his students to come up with alternative uses for culled papaya fruits—considered a waste product— and encouraged them to figure out the best and most efficient ways to do it, considering costs of ingredients, processing, labor, and other expenses. Iwaoka’s objective was to provide a “safe” place for his students to make mistakes, correct them, and move forward with their projects.
Kulanui products created by former HNFAS students can be found at select UH bookstores and Rainbowtique outlets. (Photo provided by Rainbowtique)
What resulted from the CTAHR students’ research and development were papaya curry salad dressing and papaya curry barbecue sauce. Since then, the Kulanui program has spread from CTAHR to other parts of the UH system. A lip balm and a healing balm were developed from beeswax by Professor Lorna Arita-Tsutsumi and students at UH Hilo’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management. Products developed by Kaua‘i Community College students are also in the works.
Iwaoka’s efforts to promote sustainability and reduce waste led to positive publicprivate relationships, reinforcing CTAHR’s already active collaboration with Hawai‘i farmers and vendors. He says, “I strongly believe that our goal as university educators should be to develop the ‘whole’ student— to help them acquire skills, develop constructive attitudes, and learn how to use the knowledge of the discipline to work effectively in teams, resolve conflicts, solve problems, and make decisions, so they will prosper as future employees, employers, and community members.” A portion of the proceeds from Kulanui’s products goes toward funding future student-based projects throughout the UH system
More information can be found at www.uhrainbowtique.com/kulanui.