Food Man Talks

Diageo quality head on Ecotrophelia innovation competition

By Rod Addy and James Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

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Tim Holmes, head of quality at international distiller and brewer Diageo, speaks about his role as chairman of judges at this year’s Ecotrophelia UK and why the competition is so important.

In this exclusive video podcast, Holmes tells Food Manufacture​: “It’s for third level students in universities and higher education establishments to give them a platform to develop a food or drink concept, from concept through to commercialisation.”

Teams from learning providers across the UK enter the contest, which is now in its eighth year and is jointly organised by Campden BRI in conjunction with the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST). After an initial screening process, a shortlist of finalists​ is drawn up and these teams must prepare a dossier and present their idea to a Dragons’ Den​-style judging panel. Prizes are offered to teams coming first, second and third.

Judging took place remotely because of current COVID-19 guidelines on 2 June and winners will also be announced online on 10 June. The ‘dragons’ are senior food experts from across industry including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Food Manufacture​, Marks & Spencer, Mondelēz, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Unilever, Warburtons, Nestlé, IFST and Campden BRI.

‘Future leaders of food and drink’

“The standard this year was amazing,”​ says Holmes. “We’re trying to identify the future leaders of the food and drink business and I think these folks have all got a bright future in the industry.”

Commenting on how his role within Diageo informed his position as chairman of judges for Ecotrophelia UK, Holmes said: “My role as head of quality is quite a technical role, so I’d be looking really at the aspects of: Is this going to be safe? Have the teams considered how from HACCP ​[Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points] orGood Manufacturing Practice this product is going to be made, stored, distributed?.”

How the product would be sold and marketed were other aspects he considered and he added. “I also look for that technical expertise: can the product be made at scale? Diageo’s a big business. We tend to make most of our things at scale. It was interesting to see how from a laboratory, kitchen environment they plan to take the product through to start a factory and to scale it up from there.”

Trends and themes

View this video podcast to hear some of the trends and themes that emerged from this year’s competition and what the finalists could offer the food industry in the future. Look out for future Food Man Talks interviews with the finalist teams from 10 June onwards.

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.

Ecotrophelia UK Gold winners get £2,000, a year’s free IFST membership and an invitation to become an IFST ambassador. They also go on to represent the UK in the European finals of the competition, which this year will be held at trade show Sial in Paris. They also get one day to be spent with one or several dragons, who will mentor and support the team in preparation for the European final.

The Silver team gets £1,000 and a year’s free IFST membership and the Bronze team gets £500 and a year’s free IFST membership.

Entrants must address all aspects of the product development process, including production, ingredients, nutrition, food science and food safety, marketing, sales and commercial viability.

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