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Health and convenience at forefront of Food Science new product launch

The Student Product Development Showcase for the Diploma of Food Science and Technology, featured healthy treats and convenient items like a probiotic soda, ayurvedic smoothie and crustless quiche mix.

The products created by final year students were assessed by industry experts, Halcyon Proteins Business Manager Martin Eagle and Poynton Associates Director Allan Poynton, from the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology.

All student products and the announcement of the recipients of the Gelita Best Product Concept Development Award took place during ConTech 2023, which is the Ai Group Confectionery Sector's annual event for the Australian confectionery industry.

For Martin, judging the Student Product Development projects was a great honour. "This year's students have shown great passion and care with the products made. Most of the presentation material was of a very high standard, with lots of thought going into the overall process," he said.

"It is obvious the students put a lot of effort into trials, tastings, labelling requirements, pricing, and their final presentations. Many of the final products showed a great potential for being consumer ready. In the final judgement there was only a few % points between the top group of presenters," added Martin.

The overall winner of the Best New Product Award, sponsored by Gelita Australia Pty. Ltd., was Mandeep Kaur for her mango lassi powder. In second place was Kate Pratt for her no sugar strawberry sorbet and in third place was Chetana Ganatra for her compressed spice-mix pod.

"I am over the moon," exclaimed Mandeep. "I could not be happier and I am very thankful to my beautiful family and my respected teachers from William Angliss Institute, who supported me in every aspect. She also thanked her team at Good Food Partners for giving her the opportunity and support to study while working full-time.

After being promoted from Quality Control to Quality Assurance at Good Food Partners, Mandeep's manager suggested that she undertake our Diploma of Food Science and Technology. Having completed the course, she is excited to have developed knowledge about the food processing industry and said, "That was the best advice anyone has ever given me."

According to Martin, Mandeep's MOM or Magic of Mom mango lassi mix is a unique food product, with a good chance of commercialisation. "Mandeep's numerous trials have come up with an excellent product and was backed up with a professional report and great understanding of the process steps involved," stated Martin.

As a child, mango lassi was Mandeep's favourite drink. "I wanted to introduce a powder form of a very popular Indian drink. It's quick and easy and you can take it anywhere as it is in powder form and doesn't need a fridge to store it," she said.

It took many trials to overcome the challenges of sourcing the right yoghurt powder and balancing the sweetness of the recipe. She also learnt about microbiological testing, that can help detect toxic bacteria in food and beverage products, and how to create a product development budget for commercial use.

"I am already exploring selling MOM to Indian grocery shops and restaurants," she added.

Food Science and Technology teacher Suresh Vaidyananthan explained, "By developing a new food product, students implemented their technical knowledge and understanding gained throughout their course."

"The interaction with the industry and potential customers helped them to understand industry expectations and needs," he added.

Froozi, a low sugar strawberry sorbet, was developed by Kate Pratt, combining her love of fruit and sorbet while still being able to eat healthy.

"We have such great fruit in Australia and I wanted to harness all that flavour but not have all the sugar that comes along with it. This type of product can't really be found on supermarket shelves in Australia," said Kate.

Something that many of us may not know is that sorbet has a lot of sugar in it and that's what gives it its smooth, silky texture. Kate explained that a key challenge was, "Getting the silky-smooth texture without using sugar and finding a way to replace it with ingredients such as natural sugars and stevia while still achieving a good mouth feel and structure."

Losing her job as a chef during the COVID-19 lockdown was the impetus for Kate to move into a different area of new product formulation. While she enjoyed working with a couple of companies in producing vegetarian and vegan products, she did have to hand over the project to a food scientist who took the next steps in manufacturing and getting the products to shelf.

"I decided to study the Diploma of Food Science and Technology as I just thought that it would be really great to see the process all the way through," added Kate.

When asked what her next career goals are she said, "Apart from doing some private label products - which are products that a retailer gets a third-party to produce but sells under its own brand name -I would like to be able to integrate my chef skills into a food technologist or food development role. I think that I do have an edge because I have such a broad experience with food, flavour and serving customers face to face."

With each food product, students must display a multidisciplinary approach and consider product concepts, formulations, and technical aspects to produce it in a manufacturing environment, ensuring food safety and quality, cost, packing and sensory analysis experiments.

With her goal to become a professional food safety auditor, Monisha Pazhamalai learnt a lot during her study in developing Ayurvealth, an Ayurvedic smoothie mix. "I have two Masters degrees and I didn't work this hard for my Masters. This is the hardest job that I have ever done but I have learnt how to take an idea and make it into a reality," she said

"I wanted to develop a product that was focused on vitamins and could help with vitamin deficiency.
I added ayurvedic herbs as these have been used for more than 5,000 years in India, where I come from, to treat medicinal ailments," added Monisha.

As the next generation of the food scientists and technologists, students increased their industry knowledge at ConTech 2023 and received positive feedback about their products from experts at the conference.

Find out more about studying Food Science and Technology, email or call on +613 8595 5334 for more information.

Published 26 June 2023

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