Finalists include the University of Reading’s Venergy – lemon and lime energy sweets, which aim to offer endurance athletes a vegan sustainable alternative to energy products by tackling ingredient and packaging sustainability.
The University of Nottingham’s team is in the running with Cubiies – vegan, tooth-friendly gummy sweets primarily made from vegetables and aimed at children aged five to 12. They are made of pureed by-products, polyols, modified starch and natural flavourings.
Nottingham Trent University’s Caruffle entry – a truffle made from carob and hazelnut, with a mixed fruit jelly centre and rolled in popped and ground quinoa – also made the final cut.
Outside confectionery, the University of Reading is fielding two other entries vying for the top spot. These are Keesh (a vegan, gluten-free and reduced-fat quiche-like product containing sweet potato, roasted vegetables and chickpea flour) and Favalicious, a ‘hummus-style’ fava bean dip.
The dip comes in three variants: orange (pepper and tomato), pink (beetroot) and green (spinach and herb). It is served with fava bean and wheat-based breadstick, flavoured with beetroot, tomato and basil.
All products are aimed at consumers attracted by the vegan renaissance currently gripping the industry and were chosen by a panel of product development experts.
Now in its seventh year, the Dragon's Den-style competition challenges teams of UK students to develop innovative, eco-friendly food and drink products.
Competition has been fierce in 2019, with more teams than ever competing for a place in the final and a slice of the £3,500 prize fund. A panel of product development experts carefully assessed the entries before picking the final five.
“We are delighted to see another exciting range of eco-innovative products and high-quality portfolios in this year’s UK final,” said Andrew Gardner, operations director at the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST), the independent qualifying body for food professionals in Europe, which jointly organises the event with food and drink research organisation Campden BRI.
“Year-on-year our preliminary judges, who do a fantastic job sifting through the all the entries, tell us that the quality has gone up, and this year is no different, with another very impressive field.”
The finalists will pitch their products to the dragons on 11 June. The winner will be announced on 12 June at Campden BRI Day, a major annual event for the food and drink industry.
The ‘dragons’ are senior food experts from across industry including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Food Manufacture, Marks & Spencer, Mondelēz, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Unilever, Warburtons, the IFST and Campden BRI.
This year's entries included teams from Cambridge University, London Metropolitan University, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Nottingham, the University of Reading and the University of West London.
Bertrand Emond, head of membership and training at Campden BRI, added: “The food industry faces fundamental challenges, including reducing our environmental impact, meeting growing global demand for food, producing more from less as pressure increases on resources, and reformulating and creating new products to meet diet and health requirements.
“Using science and innovation effectively will be critical to survival and competitive advantage. We must support efforts to unlock, nurture and drive innovation in the industry that helps us to meet these challenges.
“Ecotrophelia is a fantastic platform and source of innovation and inspiration for the industry capitalising on the creativity and energy of our brightest and most enterprising food students supported by the best academic institutions.”
Winners will go on to represent the UK at the European final, which will take place during the trade show Anuga in Cologne, Germany in October 2019.
Last year’s winner was the University of Nottingham’s RICH Pickings team with Pom Puffs, a spicy barbecue extruded snack, incorporating apple pomace.