Ecotrophelia UK 2021

SeaFuel in silver prize win at Ecotrophelia UK 2021

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Npd

Team SeaFuel from the University of Reading secured the silver prize and £1,000 at this year’s Ecotrophelia UK student innovation competition with its protein seaweed cracker crisps.

In this exclusive interview with Food Manufacture, ​team member Lottie Morey discussed the sustainability credentials of the product and how the manufacturing process would be sustainable.

“We tried to incorporate sustainable practices throughout the manufacturing site, so we’re hoping for it to be a carbon neutral site – using renewable energy source where possible, offsetting emissions by planting trees – and we’re hoping in the future to use an anaerobic digestion facility, so any waste we produce we can regenerate into electricity and other forms of energy,”​ Morey explained.

“We made sure our suppliers were located in close proximity [to the site] – we’re all located in the south of England – to reduce transportation emissions. In our manufacturing process, the dough we’re using can be reused so any offcuts can be used to minimise waste.”

‘New protein sources’

When asked about the reason behind her team’s entry into this year’s competition, Morey said: “Our team wanted to open people’s eyes to novel protein sources – ones that are more sustainable and less conventional.

“When people think about protein, they think about meat and poultry and not really seaweed. When we were evaluating the market, we found the savoury, high protein snack market was less saturated than sweets, so we thought decided on a high protein savoury product.”

The team decided on a medium that bridged the gap between traditional high in protein snack products, such as bars and cookies.

“Lots of companies use seaweed, but no one is using the nutritional benefits and the protein in it, so that we think our product can succeed in the market because we’ve found some gaps,”​ she added.

Dragon’s Den

Now in its ninth year, Ecotrophelia runs a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style competition that challenges teams of UK students to develop innovative, eco-friendly food and drink products.

This year’s virtual event saw the finalists pitch their products to the judges, or ‘dragons’ for their chance at a place in the European final and a slice of the £3,500 prize fund.

Econauts, the student team from the University of Nottingham, won this year’s competition​ with their non-alcoholic take on a coffee liqueur.

Commenting on their win and qualification for the European finals, team member Jemima Willgoss said: “We are really looking forward to the challenge of the European final and can’t wait to see what amazing products the other teams have been developing.”

The UK heat Europe-wide Ecotrophelia competition was organised by UK food and drink research organisation, Campden BRI, in conjunction with the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST), the independent qualifying body for food professionals in Europe.

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