Waitrose pork product supplier Dalehead Foods organised the initiative with local food technology students at Linton Village College, Cambridgeshire.
In the Dalehead Foods Enterprise Challenge, Year 9 students were asked to create a seasonal sausage that would appeal to Waitrose customers. Based on a theme of ‘sausage of the month’, each group of students had to devise a recipe, costing, marketing, mood board and packaging.
The products were tasted and judged by staff from Waitrose and one of the UK’s largest meat processors, Dalehead Foods.
The winners created a ‘tear and share’ sausage for the month of January. In addition to pork, it contains garlic, pepper, rosemary, thyme, leek, parsnip, carrot and water chestnuts.
A spokeswoman for Dalehead Foods told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “The winning product wasn’t just chosen for its great taste. It was a combination of everything the students worked on: costing, marketing and packaging. The winners were strong on all of those areas. They’d pre-cooked seasonal root vegetables to add hearty, nutritional value so they demonstrated thinking outside the box.”
Building a Waitrose product
Ian Simmons, head of faculty for business and enterprise at Linton Village College, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “The judges liked the concept of tear and share and the way students chose seasonal ingredients. Ultimately the manufacturing process came into the decision-making because they [the judges] were looking at what they could produce. The students were building a Waitrose product.”
Dalehead Foods visited the students in October to explain its new product development process to prepare the students for the initiative.
A Dalehead Foods spokeswoman said: “We’re trying to open up our business to the community and show the local community that there are interesting jobs in the food industry.
“We’re always interested in new ideas and flavours and sausages are great carriers of flavours.”
In the New Year, the students will be given a tour of Dalehead Foods’ factory during which they will see samples of the initiative’s top four sausages being processed.
Simmons said: “We’ve brought this into our curriculum because we’ve been trying to broaden the horizons of our students so that they become involved in food production. We do food technology as a subject so it was a nice fit. When we’re talking about products we want them to understand the processes involved. There’s a continual process-based idea behind what we’re trying to achieve.”
Dalehead Foods says it will be seeking a listing in local Waitrose stores for the winning sausage product before trying to go national.
The spokeswoman said: “There are half a dozen local Waitrose stores that we’d like to sell the story to first. We’re hopeful that they will have a strong chance.”
Meanwhile, Waitrose launched the snack product of its former meat counter worker in 196 of its stores this autumn (October 22).
Tom Lock was inspired to launch Awfully Posh pork scratchings when he was a 17-year-old A-level student working in the store at weekends.