Ecotrophelia Gold prize-winner targets vegan energy market

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Marianne Meyers, part of the gold prize-winning team Venergy at this year’s Ecotrophelia Food Innovation Student Awards, talks about the idea behind her team’s lemon and lime-flavoured energy sweets.

In this exclusive video interview, filmed this month at Campden BRI open day, Meyers said the idea for the sweet was born from a gap in the sports nutrition market for vegan products.

We think the sports nutrition market is a really exciting and prosperous market to go into and there are two main aspects to that – protein and energy,”​ said Meyers. “The protein​ [market] is highly saturated, so we ​[decided we] would focus on energy and see what innovative products we could come up with.

“We looked at what’s out there in the market and saw that there’s not actually a lot of products out there for vegans, so that was one of our starting points.”

Three functional advantages

The team from the University of Reading focused on providing three functional advantages of their products, tailored towards vegans.

“The first is the nutritionals – we really balanced the sugar levels, the maltodextrin, glucose and fructose to be able to optimise the absorption of the sugar in the gut and deliver energy to the consumer,”​ Meyers added.

“The second is format and package usability.​ [Venergy] is really light and easy to store, the sweet is easy to eat. Our third advantage: texture, we focused on having it really easy and quick to consume;​ [it] doesn’t dry out your mouth, but also doesn’t get stuck in your teeth.”

Seventh year

Now in its seventh year, Ecotrophelia UK is a Dragons’ Den-style competition that challenges teams of UK students to develop an innovative, eco-friendly food and drink product. From idea generation through to the final packaged product, the teams get a hands-on experience of what it takes to bring an eco-friendly food or drink product to market.

The finalists pitched their products on 11 ​June to 11 judges – or dragons. For the full list of dragons, click here​.

The winner was announced on 12 ​June at Campden BRI’s annual open day at the organisation’s headquarters at Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. The awards were presented by one of the dragons, Lindsay Dobson, senior research and development manager at prize sponsor PepsiCo.

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