Wednesday, 30 October 2013

My experience entering the Ecotrophelia Competition 2013

When I first started Harper Adams University, myself and eight other food students formed the team 'More Than Meat Pies' to enter the Ecotrophelia competition 2013.

Ecotrophelia is a competition recognised by the EU Commission. Students from Universities are asked to create an Eco-Innovative product to present it to some of the 'top dogs' in the Food Industry. The product has to be environmentally friendly, sustainable, profitable and commercially viable.

Our team recognised the potential in offal, an underused by product, so decided to create a cottage pie style ready meal. We used kidney, heart and liver which we formed into a mince and mixed with onion, carrot, herbs and a delicious gravy with a mashed potato topping. We kept the skins on the carrots and potato to minimise waste and get those extra brownie points!! We aptly named the pie 'A Heart Meal'.

In early June we entered the first stage of Ecotrophelia in the UK heats at Campden BRI.

Photo: The team representing A Hearty Meal at CampdenBRI !!
Here's a picture of our lovely stand and three of my team mates just before they went to present to 'the dragons'.

We only went and won it!! It was a brilliant feeling especially as we were against some great competition.

Here's us with our Cheque.

Next stop Anuga Cologne, Germany. Mid October the team and I travelled to the largest food trade fair to present our pie against 18 other competing countries. Below is a picture of the team with our pies in transit.

The fair itself was humongous and offered the weird, wonderful and future trending products such as pizza on a stick, but I'll write more about that in another post.

The judging panel was made up Michael Knowles (Chairman European Technology Platform 'Food for Life' and Vice-President Global Scientific and Regulatory Affairs to The Coca-Cola Company), Peter Van Bladern (Global Head Regulatory and Scientific Affairs of Nestle SA) just to name a few!!

Here's some of the products the other Countries were offering:

Ukraine - Panna Cotta Cream Dessert with Fruit Juice Ball Sauce
Switzerland - The Delicatesse (premium fast food)
Spain - Peelcuits (baked snack made from tomato peel)
The Netherlands - Choco Quino (chocolate quinoa beverage)
Italy - SOcrock (snack made with sorghum)
France - Ico&La (vegetable patties using lentils)

Whilst three of the team were presenting, the rest of us served a small portion to the judges. Time just flew in those 15minutes, before we knew it it was all over. All that time, work and effort but boy were we relieved. The next day we returned to Anuga for the result. Third was Italy, second was the Netherlands and well deserved first was France, who hope to launch their lovely veggie dish on the market. We weren't in the top three but were assured we were placed highly and received some great feedback.

It was a wonderful experience and honour to represent the UK and our University. We may not have won but we learnt so much in the process such as project management, how to deal with inherent problems, team work and how an idea develops through research, formulation, industrial phases into a fully fledged product. I'm so proud of our achievement and to have worked with such a lovely and strong team.

If you have the opportunity or are interested in entering, I couldn't recommend it enough. Its a brilliant experience and pretty fab on your CV too!!

Here's a few links to publications we featured in...   

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