Purveyors: Failed Thesis Project GoldenducK Now Fast-Growing Social EnterpriseMarch 1, 2017
- Bea OsmeñaWords
Which came first: the duck or the egg? In the case of the GoldenducK, it was the egg. The yellow salted egg, that is. GoldenducK’s emblematic salted eggs use fifty-percent less salt than the commercially available red egg for a healthier alternative to your salted egg addiction. Their eggs are also dyed with all-natural turmeric to give it its golden hue, a supposed safer alternative to the red dyes that are believed to be carcinogenic.
GoldenducK is changing the game of the duck industry as we know it from the ground up, with founder Alvie Benitez working together with and living on GK’s Enchanted Farm to build jobs and confidence in our country’s duck farmers.
“If you look at how a salted egg is made, traditionally, it’s a very backyard product ‘cause the industry itself is very backyard,” Benitez says. “A lot of salted eggs out there in the market are rejected balut eggs; you have them incubated for about 11 days. On the 11th day, you check if there’s a duckling or not, and if there’s no duckling inside, it either becomes salted egg or penoy, so these are 11-day-old eggs. And rejected balut eggs.” This results in Filipinos purchasing salted eggs at the wet market that are spoiled or in poor condition. “This is what characterizes the duck industry in general,” he explains. “[Duck eggs] are good products but low value, and because they’re low value, people in the value chain (those involved in creating the products) stay poor.”
Within the GoldenducK model, Benitez works closely together with GK community members to create a high-value product that is safe and of good quality. They work with duck farms where eggs are produced with the specific and sole purpose of becoming golden duck eggs, ensuring only fresh duck eggs are preserved. After the salting process, their eggs last for around 21 days on the shelf. Benitez tells us that GoldenducK pays their farmers more than market price for their products, and that the proceeds of the business are able to send one of their part-time staff members to entrepreneurship school with stipend. It is now one of the most in-demand products that started out in the Enchanted Farm incubator, with Benitez now struggling with “a good problem but a problem nonetheless” of not having enough eggs to meet demand.
It is hard to believe that this dream came to fruition from a failed thesis project for Benitez and two other group mates in college, the three of them salting eggs in an alley between houses. “Instead of continuing with my thesis, I went full-time with the business,” Benitez tells us, abandoning his original track of pursuing law after college. “I felt that I had found a calling; something purposeful and fulfilling.” Now he is frequently contacted by students from the very college he dropped out of, asking him about his successful social enterprise model to write about in their papers.
“If I didn’t fail, I probably wouldn’t have made the decision to go for it full-time,” says Benitez. “It taught me a lot [about] how to deal with failure. When you follow your dream . . . it’s a narrow path.” From an admittedly lost university student, the now impassioned and determined Benitez has found that learning is what you make of it, and despite how far he has come, he continues to remain humble and earnest as he navigates championing a high-value duck industry in the thriving local food scene.
GoldenducK is a social enterprise that produces and distributes turmeric-dyed salted egg that uses 50% less salt than traditional salted eggs, and duck burgers.