Juices for Gut Health with Fijian Traditional Healing Ingredients

Ancient Wisdom-inspired Super Juices in Fiji Boost Immune System, Preserve Health, and Help Small Local Farmers  

Good health starts with a healthy gut. That is the firm belief of Panapasa Daunakamakama, better known as "Pana," the founder and director of Juice Fiji. Passionate about agriculture, he makes gut health juices from local fruits, vegetables, and medicinal herbs and derives his recipes from traditional knowledge passed down from his grandmothers. With his juices and other derivative products, he intends to keep people healthy and help small farmers make a better living.

Panapasa Daunakamakama, founder and owner of Juice Fiji holding a bottle of Juice Fiji
Image: Juice Fiji

He grew up in Suva, the Fijian capital on the largest island of Viti Levu, and attended Navuso Agricultural Technical Institute. "Agriculture is my passion," he said. He later followed agriculture studies in Samoa. 

After spending ten years in New Zealand, he returned to Fiji with his family. "I wanted to bring changes to the country," he said, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, a farmer, when he returned to Fiji. He experienced the struggles of the agriculture sector, which, according to him, sit at the confluence of the meager prices commodities are sold on the export market and vast quantities of food being imported.

Preventing Non-Communicable Diseases with Medicinal Herbs

After learning that non-communicable diseases such as heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, and respiratory diseases are the biggest killers in Fiji, claiming thousands of lives a year and the record number of diabetes-related amputations, Pana thought he could make a difference.

Several Fijian fruits such as pineapple and coconut used by the company in its juices
Image: Juice Fiji

He wanted to combine his knowledge of agriculture and plants acquired from his grandmothers, one of whom lived to be 105, to create a healthy complement. At the same time, his young daughter developed a skin infection that was only getting worse. He made a concoction of plants and herbs, and all the sores on her arm were gone within a month. He was convinced then that the power of plants and medicinal herbs could be harnessed and combined to maintain and restore people's health.

In 2018, he developed his original healthy juice and started marketing it. He went to hotels and collected empty juice bottles, sterilized and re-used them for his juice. "I started the business with FJD 200 [about US$90] in my pocket," he said. He went door to door without proper labeling and sold his two-liter bottles for FJD 10. 

Word of mouth spread quickly, and later that year, he registered his company and developed a brand, rapidly filling 1,000 bottles a week with his juice. By 2021, he employed 30 people and produced 10,000 bottles a week. Then Covid-19 hit, "and everything came down crumbling," Pana said, adding that the business is now starting to grow back with 2,000 bottles a week.

Detox Juices with healing properties from Fiji

Nine Ingredients in a Bottle for the Whole Family

A hand holding a bottle of Juice Fiji with a yellow color against an ocean background
Image: Juice Fiji

Juice Fiji original detox juice includes nine ingredients: ginger, turmeric, layalaya (wild ginger), beetroot, warusi (indigenous wild herb growing in the highlands), pineapple, watermelon, lime, and pawpaw (papaya).

According to Pana, health issues in Fiji are related to the daily consumption of hyperprocessed food. Making juice every morning is time-consuming, and he said using Juice Fiji out of the bottle is much more convenient. "Everybody can drink it daily; there are no contraindications." People suffering from diabetes can also drink the juice, he said, as the sugar level is carefully measured and kept under 7 mmol/L.

All nine ingredients are "superfoods," Pana explains: ginger warms up the body, turmeric helps with inflammation and reduces high blood pressure, beetroot helps cleanse the blood, warusi is an energizer, while pineapple and watermelon are energizing, and pawpaw is a gut cleanser, which in Pana's view is capital in warding off illnesses.

Juice Fiji also produces kumquat juice, turmeric juice, and warusi juice.

Healthy Flour Substitutes from Fijian farms

Enriched Flours, Powders, Helping Health and Local Agriculture

A hand holding a bottle of Juice Fiji with an orange color against a costal background
Image: Juice Fiji

Pana set up a new company, "Natural Flourmills of Fiji (NFF)" and in the Fall of 2023 launched a new product range of flour subtitutes using sweet potatoes, breadfruit, banana, and coconut, as well as ginger and turmeric powders. 

He also added value to his juice line by using the side products of juice production to market innovative enriched wheat flour with ginger and turmeric.

Pana's ingredients come from small Fijian farmers as he still aims to help the agriculture sector. He said about 90 percent of the food in Fiji supermarkets is imported. "I strongly believe that through food innovation, we could replace imported food, such as making flour out of sweet potatoes."

Gut Health Juices and flour subtitutes are sold in all major supermarkets in Fiji and some service stations, and Pana is working on new packaging for hotels.

Scaling up Juice Fiji and Generating Higher Income for Fijian Farmers

In the next few years, Pana wants to make his own bottles and labels, scale up his company beyond Fiji's borders, and, most importantly, work on his intellectual property protection and branding.

A group of four Fijian women holding bottles of Juice Fiji
Image: Juice Fiji

However, growing his company is not Pana's only goal. "I want to become influential in the growth of the agricultural sector of Fiji," he said, "so that farmers grow their income." "I also want to provide a healthier alternative in supermarket shelves that will help people with their health issues." He wants to empower people to eat better and use his juice to maintain their health. "Let food be your medicine," he concluded.

Pana joined an exhibit organized on the margins of the Heads of IP Office Conference in Fiji in October 2023 and WIPO experts conducted speed mentoring. He has expressed interest to find relevant technologies to improve his products for exports. As such, he will be invited to future WIPO training on the subject.

Last update:

January 25, 2024


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