Ho Yung Wei Brings Out Taiwanese Spirit with His Achievement on Shell Ginger

【新唐人亞太台 2018 年 01 月 08 日訊】Shell ginger can be used for weaving bags and wrapping rice cakes. It can also be used to make skin care products after extraction process. Ho Yung Wei, nicknamed the shell ginger expert in Taiwan, has studied the ginger for more than 10 years. He pioneered the method of extracting raw materials from shell ginger using supercritical CO2 extraction equipment, subsequently raising the market value for ginger. He also wanted to promote the Taiwan’s hardworking spirit to the rest of the world with his achievement on shell ginger. 

Shell ginger blossoms in the months between March and May, and it begins bearing fruits in autumn. Because of better than expected weather this year, Taiwan has enjoyed a good harvest of the ginger. With the sun shining brightly, farmers have been busy placing shell ginger seeds in the yard to dry them, in preparation of the subsequent extraction. 

Ho Yung Wei, the chairman of a biotech company making skin care products: “These are shell ginger seeds which are used to make ren dan. Ren dan are better known as black cardamom in Compendium of Materia Medica.” 

Jin-Jin Li, a reporter for NTD Television: “In fact, shell ginger is everywhere in our lives. For example, its leaf sheaths can be used to weave shoulder bags or hats. And its leafs can be used to wrap rice cakes. At the same time, shell ginger seed is a Chinese traditional herb. But with the passing of times, some people have decided to extract raw materials from shell gingers, and these materials have since become valuable.” 

Ho Yung Wei, the chairman of a biotech company making skin care products: “For 100 kilograms of shell ginger seeds, we can extract about 1 kilogram of raw materials.” 

Dry shell ginger seeds, after being grinded to powder, are placed inside a supercritical CO2 extraction equipment. Under extremely high pressure and with temperature between 30 to 40 degree Celcius, liquid CO2 is used to extract raw materials out from the seeds. Without any degradation from either oxidation or heat, or pollution from organic solvents, the extracted raw materials still have their original reactivity and natural aroma, much higher than those with normal extraction method. He Yong-Wei, the chairman of a biotech company, has since used these valuable raw materials to make skin care products and essential oils, while his technology has been awarded patents by Taiwan’s Intellectual Property Office. 

Ho Yung Wei, the chairman of a biotech company making skin care products: “Now I am busy with business negotiations, with the goal of directly exporting these extracted raw materials to overseas companies. We are in contact with companies in Japan and France. And they have all shown great interest.” 

Leafs of shell ginger can be used to make tea bags. He has such a good understanding of shell ginger’s properties, due to his research for the past 30 years, as well as how he grew up in an environment with plenty of shell ginger. At a young age, He would chop down shell gingers and had his older brother bring them to school and then sell them at market. After years of his experience with ginger shell, He said he has learned the hard-working spirit behind Taiwanese people. 

Ho Yung Wei, the chairman of a biotech company making skin care products: “Shell ginger [pronounced ‘yue tao’ in Mandarin] takes on new Chinese characters when it comes to pronunciation in Taiwanese. ‘Yue,’ a character meaning moon, is replaced by ‘ying,’ a character for hard. Shell ginger is then pronounced ‘gue tao’ in Taiwanese. ‘Ying’ has the implicit meaning of hard-working spirit. And the spirit could mean having the courage to explore different things in research. So I want to use this to symbolize the character of the Taiwanese people.” 

In Taiwan, shell ginger comes in different species. And He has decided to work with alpinia zerumbet, a species that exists mostly in low altitude region. Additionally He has formed multiple partnerships with academia, to study shell ginger, to see how it can be better utilized, and tell a story that is unique in Taiwan. He also heavily invested in both importing supercritical CO2 extraction equipments and establishing a Class 10,000 clean room, to safeguard the processing quality of shell ginger. Under He’s lead, more and more people have come to realize how valuable shell ginger is. Five years from now, according to He, the market value for processed shell ginger products will top NT$100 million (about $3.3 million). 

Ho Yung Wei, the chairman of a biotech company making skin care products: “I believe, in terms of extraction of shell ginger, we currently have the best technology in the world. And this technology will lead to the development of an industry. And later on, for the different applications of shell ginger, we will become known for being the best biotech firm.” 

Facial cleansers, essential oils, and other skin care products are all made with extractants from shell ginger. The seeds, after being used for extraction, have also been utilized by He to make soaps. Currently there are more than 20 products that have been made from shell ginger. He will continue to do research and development, with the goal of using shell ginger to promote Taiwan’s hard-working spirit to the rest of the world. 

Interviewing and writing: Jin-Jin Li 

Filming and post production: Dennis Yeh /Hueiwao Chen



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