MSU food product development team finishes second in national competition

The Michigan State University (MSU) Food Product Development team earned second place in the new product development competition at the annual Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) National Convention, held at the Hilton Chicago July 11-16.

July 17, 2013

Members of MSU's food product development team

The Michigan State University (MSU) Food Product Development team earned second place in the new product development competition at the annual Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) National Convention, held at the Hilton Chicago July 11-16.

Food science college student teams across the country were tasked with creating a new food product and carrying the concept through marketing and production, much as a commercial product development team would.

Judges evaluated the potential success of product entries in today's market and technical problem-solving skills used in product development.

MSU and five other finalist teams presented their products July 14 during IFT’s annual meeting and food expo. Cornell University was awarded first place with Squashetti, a frozen chicken entrée containing spaghetti squash in place of wheat based noodles.

The MSU team’s product, “Minus-the-Moo!” is an all-natural, nondairy almond milk-based frozen dessert with no sugar added.

The product can be marketed to a wide range of consumers who are seeking dairy-free alternatives; products with lower calorie and sugar options, all natural ingredients, high soluble fiber and high antioxidant content; and additional fruits and vegetables in their diets. 

Michigan tart cherries were added to the product as the chosen fruit.  The product is designed to be a swirl of cherry almond and chocolate almond base with hidden vegetables such as sweet potatoes.

“The experience that the team members received will translate into high performing employees and leaders in the food industry,” said Janice Harte, team adviser and associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. “National recognition helps to promote MSU, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Food Science and Human Nutrition and Packaging majors as great options for future MSU students.”

The team started working in the fall with a Smoothie concept but changed to this frozen dessert option, finding it more feasible. 

The ideation started in Harte’s class, “Sensory Evaluation and Consumer Research,” and continued in the food science major’s capstone course, “Food Product Development,” taught by Harte and Winnie C. Dolan, who also teaches in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

“We’ve been working with this product for almost a year now through many reformulations with consumer input, technical challenges and late nights,” said team captain Mara Laurain.

Team members are: Mara Laurain, a food science graduate student from Mason, Mich.; Cory Carson, a graduate of the food science program from Zeeland, Mich.; Edward Szczygiel, a food science senior from Ann Arbor, Mich.; William Denver, a food science senior from Lake Orion, Mich.; and Hunter Gartner, a packaging graduate student from Northville, Mich.

“The five students worked incredibly hard on this project and well deserve recognition for their accomplishment,” Harte said. “Several made great sacrifices to compete. In addition to the fantastic team effort, mentoring by some key food science faculty members and many food industry supporters and alums helped make the project successful.”

Since its beginning in 1975, the IFTSA has grown to more than 2,000 student members from around the world. As the premier food science and technology student organization, IFTSA prepares its members for advancement in food-related disciplines by providing a community for making valuable connections and enhancing professional and technical skills.

For more information on the competition, please visit: http://www.ift.org/community/students/competitions/product-development.aspx.

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