Food Man Talks

Gluten-free waffle sandwich wins Bronze at Ecotrophelia UK

By Rod Addy & James Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Npd, Bakery, Ingredients & nutrition

Jared Spencer, representing the Eco-Dive team from the University of Nottingham, which won Bronze at this year’s Ecotrophelia UK competition for CocoWaffle, a gluten-free, Dutch-inspired waffle sandwich concept, describes the group's ethnically diverse make-up.

"We recognised not a lot of ethnic minorities were represented in the food industry, so we thought we would create a company, we would create a product, centred around the diversity of us," said Spencer. "I'm an international student from Barbados, Yana ​[Polakova] was born in Regen, Slovakia, Opal ​[Walailuk Wisasang] was from Thailand, Marie ​[Mohamaddi] is from Loughborough, but has an ethnic background as well and Marie ​[Humaira Hazeem] was also from Sri Lanka.

"We also wanted to make a product that mitigated the environmental impact of the food industry specific in the countries that made us who we are."

The team focused a lot on building the product's green credentials, creating something that used every part of the coconut as a raw material, from coconut flour and coconut sugar to coconut oil, explained Spencer. "We began to think about: what are the real issues in the food industry in tropical regions? There are hundreds of thousands of tonnes of biowaste that comes from coconuts. We wanted to do something that could really tackle that environmental issue."​ Eco-Dive proposed that, while CocoWaffle's inner packaging would be made out of bioplastic, its outer packaging would be composed partly of coconut husks. The team's award entry claimed that 3.18m tonnes of solid waste are generated annually by the Indian coconut market alone.

Carbon footprint

Eco-Dive also put a lot of thought into its factory's carbon footprint, from its location in Kerala, India to its construction using recycled materials and harnessing solar power. The team also analysed the road miles travelled in distributing the product. Tune into this video to hear more.

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.

Gold award

The Re-Dessert team 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, the Re-Dessert team, which also hailed from the University of Nottingham, 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 Plant-Up team from the University of West London, which scooped the Silver award, gets £1,000 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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