A team of students from the University of Nottingham has won the gold prize at Ecotrophelia UK for its ‘Gulab Jamun’-inspired sweets. ‘Gulab Jamun’ is a syrup infused fried sponge-like doughball. Team Re-Dessert have reinvented the recipe so that it incorporates surplus bread, along with new flavour variations such as Jam Roly-poly. Each member of the gold-winning team took home a share of the £2,000 top prize sponsored by PepsiCo. Watch the announcement below:
Now in its eighth year, the Dragons’ Den-style competition challenges teams of UK students to develop innovative, eco-friendly food and drink products. From idea generation through to the final packaged product, the teams get hands-on experience of what it takes to bring an eco-friendly food or drink product to market.
On 2 June 2020, the finalists pitched their products, via a video conference call, to the judging panel. The twelve ‘dragons’ watched all five presentations and assessed each product’s marketability, feasibility, and whether they conformed to competition rules and regulations. They also analysed each team’s business plan for its product. Following the presentations, they interviewed the teams, delving deeper into details about their products, including the packaging, branding, the eco-friendliness and the scalability of production. The winning team was announced online on 10 June 2020.
Even with the restrictions caused by COVID-19, competition has been fierce this year, for a place in the final and a slice of the £3,500 prize fund. Compared to previous years, the only element missing was the experience of tasting each product. Presentation skills were put to the test, and the judges found the innovation and ingenuity on show very inspiring and promising.
Team Re-Dessert commenting on its win, said “'We couldn’t be more thrilled to be the winners of the UK Ecotrophelia Final 2020. Due to COVID-19, the competition was virtual this year and so we had the added challenge of finding a way to convey our delicious product. Many Zoom calls later, we believe we achieved this!
We are very excited to compete in the European finals later this year, allowing us to share our passion for our product and to develop our ideas further. It will also be a great opportunity to see what exciting and innovative products other groups have been creating.
Bready or not, here we crumb!'”
Team Re-Dessert will go on to compete against other national teams from across Europe for the chance to win up to €6,000 at the Ecotrophelia European final, which will take place during SIAL in Paris, France on 18-19 October 2020.
Team PLANT UP from University of West London secured the silver prize and £1,000 for its vegetable pastas (one beetroot and one sweet potato) which are suitable for vegans, vegetarians and coeliacs. They are high in protein and prepared in under 10 minutes.
The bronze prize and £500 was awarded to the second team from University of Nottingham for its ‘CocoWaffle’. It is a gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan, Dutch-inspired waffle sandwich with a coconut caramel filling. The recipe uses the whole coconut, minimising food wastage.
All three prize-winning teams will also receive a one-year IFST membership.
Helen Munday, IFST President and Chief Scientific Officer at FDF commented: “As always, Ecotrophelia has proven to be an excellent opportunity to develop and engage with the next generation of food scientists and technologists; bringing industry and our students together. The students were challenged to be innovative and environmentally conscious, and demonstrate leadership through their product development and presentations. As the food sector adapts to the COVID-19 situation, the students also had to adapt by presenting on a virtual platform. All the teams did a brilliant job in modifying their pitches to the 'dragons', and as a judging panel we learnt a lot from them! It was a highly engaging event for all involved and the standards demonstrated by all the teams were of the highest level.
Now in its eighth year, the quality, complexity and innovation of the teams and their products improves year on year, and we were presented with some great examples of 'Imagineering' this year. Ecotrophelia is the perfect stepping stone into a career in our ever-developing sector and the highest placed teams from the University of Nottingham and the University of West London demonstrated the great calibre of young talent we have coming through our educational system.”
The teams pitched their ideas to judges from leading names in the food and drink industry who also sponsor the competition including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Food Manufacture, Marks & Spencer, Mondelez, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Unilever, Warburtons, Nestle Research and Development, Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) and Campden BRI.
Bertrand Emond, Campden BRI - co-organiser of the Ecotrophelia UK competition and member of the European judging panel said: “The food and drink industry is particularly dynamic and continues to present challenges, particularly those related to innovation and sustainability. To ensure the industry continues to grow and meet these challenges both now and, in the future, it is essential to attract creative, intelligent, gifted students. Ecotrophelia encourages the brightest students to consider a career in the food and drink sector and gives them a unique opportunity to participate in a ‘real-life’ food innovation and development process and gain key practical skills that you just cannot get from a textbook. As the world's largest independent membership-based organisation carrying out research and development for the global food and drinks industry, we are committed to supporting young and emerging talent in the food and drink industry and are proud to support Ecotrophelia.”
The UK heat of this Europe-wide competition was organised by UK food and drink research organisation, Campden BRI, in conjunction with Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST), leading professional body for those involved in all aspects of food science and technology.