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Food Science students finalists in Global Hunger competition

19 October 2018
Left to right | Hui An, Jinghuizi Huang and Shona Gomes from Team Cool Bananas with academic researcher Siew-Young Quek and Ziting Xie, Anna Worthington and Luodan Xu from Team Hungry Hippos.
Left to right | Hui An, Jinghuizi Huang and Shona Gomes from Team Cool Bananas with academic researcher Siew-Young Quek and Ziting Xie, Anna Worthington and Luodan Xu from Team Hungry Hippos.

Two teams of undergraduate Food Science and Nutrition students have made it to the finals of the IUFoST Food Science students fighting hunger: a global student new product development competition.

Our Faculty of Science students will be competing seven other teams from China (x2), India (x2), Columbia, Indonesia and Singapore at the IUFoST Conference in India in late October.

The purpose of the competition is to encourage food science and technology undergraduate students to use their knowledge and skills to develop innovative food products to fight hunger.

Students are challenged to develop a nutritious product based on regional raw materials and technologies. The primary focus is on the practical application of scientific and technological principles with the concern for safety, sensory acceptability, shelf life, health and marketability.

The 12 students – six in Team Cool Bananas (Nicole Tan, Hui An, Chun Chieh Ting, Jinghuizi Huang, Elaine Sio, Shona Gomes) and six in Team Hungry Hippos (Anna Worthington, Luodan Xu, Reeva-may Hollick, Xiaoying Zhang, Xiaoying Guan, Ziting Xie) - secured their places with innovative products, Nutri-Fuel and Super-Kai.

Team Cool Bananas (Nutri-Fuel) focussed on developing a product using excess food – unsold bread and second grade bananas – donated to NZ charity Kiwiharvest. They created a high fibre banana biscuit that is affordable, nutritious and attractive low-income families to purchase as snacks for their children.

Team Hungry Hippos (Super-Kai) wanted to design an accessible, nutritious product that is relevant to the specific needs of the Māori community while being mindful of Māori food customs. They developed a fortified dry mix for traditional New Zealand Māori sourdough-style bread.

The teams’ product development was supported by Food and Nutrition advisors academic researchers Siew-Young Quek and Peter Swedlund as well as product development advisors Daphne Tan and Denise Conroy.

Anna Worthington from Team Hungry Hippos says they were speechless when they heard they had made the finals.

“We were very excited that the other people saw the same potential for our product that we did,” she says.

“We used the double-diamond design approach to develop our idea. This involved 'discovering' what hunger looks like in NZ, defining the key food related deficiencies, followed by an ideation to develop possible solutions to hunger in NZ.

“We wanted to come up with a product that matched our consumers’ needs in an acceptable way, and this model helped us to consider product ideas from their perspective. We began working on the proposal in late March, and continued to develop our product idea until late April. Product development was largely undertaken in FOODSCI 304, for all of semester two, although we also did plenty of experimenting at home as well.”

Anna says although only three students from each team are able to attend the final – all six are looking forward to experiencing their first conference.

“It will be a great opportunity to hear about other research projects and network with a diverse range of people. This will definitely help to broaden our horizons for our future careers.”

For the final round, all competing teams will prepare a poster to be displayed and an outline presentation of the project both of which will be reviewed by a panel of judges (comprising of seven judges from IUFoST Governing Council and other invited scientists).

Prizes will be awarded for:

  • Best overall project
  • Best oral presentation
  • Best display
  • Best scientific content
  • Best commercial content

The Food and Health programme contributed towards the students' travel and accommodation costs.