Vegan and coeliac-friendly desserts in Ecotrophelia UK shortlist

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

A vegan energy sweet won the University of Reading team Gold at Ecotrophelia UK 2019
A vegan energy sweet won the University of Reading team Gold at Ecotrophelia UK 2019

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Vegan and coeliac-friendly desserts have greatly inspired teams entering this year’s student food innovation competition – Ecotrophelia UK and are trends heavily reflected by the five shortlisted groups.

Now in its eighth year, the Dragons’ Den​-style competition challenges teams of UK students to develop innovative, eco-friendly food and drink products, with a total prize fund of £3,500 on offer.

Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, the competition, which is organised by the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST) and Campden BRI, has been fierce this year, with more teams than ever competing to be finalists. A panel of product development experts carefully assessed the entries before picking the final five. 

IFST operations director Andrew Gardner said: “We are delighted to see another exciting range of eco-innovative products and high-quality portfolios in this year’s UK final. Year-on-year our preliminary judges, who do a fantastic job sifting through all the entries, tell us that the quality has gone up, and this year is no different, with another very impressive field.”

After much deliberation, a panel of new product development experts has selected the five finalist teams’ products.

The shortlisted teams' products

  • University of Reading: Betta Indulgence- Betta Banoffee​ a ready-to-eat banana, caramel, cream and dark chocolate, oat pastry layered dessert tart;
  • Liverpool Hope University: The Brewer's Brownie- ​a ​vegan chocolate brownie that is fortified with brewer’s spent grain;
  • University of Nottingham: Eco-Dive - CocoWaffle: ​a gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan, Dutch-inspired waffle sandwich with a coconut caramel filling.
  • University of West London: Plant Up- product range:​ including two types of vegetable pasta, one beetroot and one sweet potato, the range is suitable for vegans, vegetarians and coeliacs, high in protein and prepared in less than ten minutes;
  • University of Nottingham: Re-Dessert -​ inspired by the Indian dessert ‘Gulab Jamun’, a syrup-infused fried sponge-like doughball, a reinvented recipe incorporates surplus bread, along with new flavour variations such as jam roly-poly.

The five finalists will pitch their products to the dragons on 2 June and the winner will be announced on 10 June 2020, during Campden BRI Week, 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, Mondelez, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Unilever, Warburtons,  Nestle, the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) and Campden BRI.

This year's entries included teams from the University of Nottingham, University of Reading, University of West London, University of Liverpool, Leeds University, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Liverpool Hope University.

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.

'Science and innovation'

"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.”

Last year, it was a vegan energy sweet that won the Gold award for its creators, a team from the University of Reading.

The winning team will go on to represent the UK at the European final​, which is scheduled to take place during SIAL in Paris, France on 18-19 October 2020.

The UK heat of this Europe-wide competition is organised by UK food and drink research organisation, Campden BRI, in conjunction with the IFST, the independent qualifying body for food professionals in Europe.

Prize breakdown for the three top teams

Winners get: £2,000 + 1 year's free IFST membership + the invitation to become an IFST ambassador + 1 day to be spent with one or several dragons, who will mentor and support the team in preparation for the European final;

Second place team gets: £1,000 + 1 year's free IFST membership

Third place team gets: £500 + 1 year's free IFST membership

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