Food Man Talks

Vegan pasta concept wins Silver at Ecotrophelia UK

By Rod Addy & James Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

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Kirsty Turner, representative of the Silver-winning team at this year’s Ecotrophelia UK competition, Plant-Up from the University of West London, explains how their entry addressed consumer demand for convenient, healthy and eco-friendly food.

"We developed a range of vegetable pastas, so we've got a beetroot pasta and a sweet potato pasta,"​ said Turner. "They are both suitable for vegans and coeliacs, they are both high in fibre and they are packaged in a biodegradable and compostable packaging, so really eco-innovative. As a team, we really focused on the nutritional and sustainability aspects of the product. That's where our hearts lie.

"We had to make something that was genuinely marketable, so it would sit quite happily on a shelf. We also developed a recipe that was particularly scalable."

Cooked in just two minutes

The product was also designed to be cooked in just two minutes, so served time-poor shoppers seeking nutritious food that could be prepared quickly.

View this video podcast to hear Turner outline the green credentials of Plant-Up's packaging and how the entry addressed the drive to reduce supply chain greenhouse gas emissions. Tune into our video podcast with Tim Holmes, head of quality at Diageo and chairman of judges for Ecotrophelia UK this year to hear his thoughts on the contest​ ​and look out for Food Man Talks interviews with all the finalist teams over the next few days.

Ecotrophelia outlined

Teams from learning providers across the UK enter Ecotrophelia UK, 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. 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.

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

Judging took place remotely because of current COVID-19 guidelines on 2 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.

Winners' prizes

As winner of the Silver award, the Plant-Up team gets £1,000 and a year’s free IFST membership. 

Re-Dessert, the finalist team from University of Nottingham, won the Gold award for its ‘Delights’ product concept​, which used bread waste to create sweet doughballs base on traditional Indian dessert gulab jamun. As Gold winner, Re-Dessert claims £2,000, a year’s free IFST membership and an invitation to become an IFST ambassador. They will 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 finals. 

The Eco-Dive team – also from University of Nottingham – won the Bronze award for its Coco-Waffle concept, a Dutch-inspired waffle sandwich with a coconut caramel filling. As Bronze winner, the team gets £500 and a year’s free IFST membership.

The results were revealed on the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) website​ on 10 June. The IFST has also posted videos covering Re-Dessert's concept​, as well as the entries from Plant Up​ and Eco-Dive​ on YouTube.

This year's Ecotrophelia UK entries​ also included teams from University of Reading, University of Liverpool, Leeds University, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Liverpool Hope University.

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