MSU Food Product Development Team wins silver at food competition

The MSU Product Development student team won second place at this year's Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Student Association Food Product Development Competition, which took place over the summer in Chicago.

September 7, 2016

The Michigan State University (MSU) Product Development student team won second place at this year’s Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Student Association Food Product Development Competition, which took place over the summer in Chicago.

Teams from colleges and universities around the country enter a proposal for a product they develop, according to Silas Bonczyk, a recent food science graduate from Manton, Michigan, and team leader. Proposals, he said, include formulation, marketing, cost analysis and process flow.

Then, from all the applicants, only six teams are selected to proceed in the competition. Finalists are required to write a more detailed final proposal, and travel to the annual IFT expo in July for presentations, product tasting sessions and poster presentations, said Bonczyk.

While creating a product from scratch sounds difficult enough, the process was even harder with the members of MSU’s team spread out throughout Michigan.

“It was difficult because everyone was in different places across the state; meetings weren’t as productive as they could have been,” Bonczyk said.

The team also didn’t have access to specific equipment, which made the entire process of creating the product that much harder.

“The hardest challenge for me personally, and I also believe for us as a team, was creating our product on the benchtop. Our product used specialized equipment to create the desired shape and structure. We didn’t have access to this equipment, making it very difficult to replicate this process. However, after months of practice I believe we created a representative product for the competition,” said Josh Vanderweide, a food science major from Battle Creek.

Despite all of these roadblocks, the team was able to create the product.

“Our product was YerBagel – an artisan-style whole wheat bagel stuffed with an apple cinnamon cream cheese,” said Shelby Cieslinski, food science major from Macomb. “It wasn’t just a stuffed bagel,” she said. “The cream cheese was naturally caffeinated using Yerba Mate tea extract and coffee fruit powder, providing consumers with 80 milligrams of caffeine per serving.”

This is about equal to the amount of caffeine found in a cup of home-brewed coffee.

The nine-membered team worked together over eight months to create this product.

The competition concluded in July with satisfying results.

“The moment that stood out most to me was the Q&A session after our PowerPoint presentation,” Cieslinski said. “Other teams had only one or two members answer, but nearly every person on our team contributed to our answers. I think this set us apart as a well-balanced team.”

But is all this hard work worth it?

“I would say, yes! It’s definitely worth working hard to excel in the competition,” Bonczyk said.

Vanderweide agreed.

“For the months leading up to the competition, each member of our team put in great effort,” said Vanderweide. “We enjoyed working with each other and learned a lot about the product development process.” 

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