University students offer sneak peek into the future of food at IFT FIRST competitions

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty/	Klaus Vedfelt
Source: Getty/ Klaus Vedfelt

Related tags IFT First

To foster the next generation of food scientists, technologists and innovators, the Institute of Food Technologists Student Association will host a series of competitions at the upcoming IFT FIRST: Annual Event and Expo in which college students will pitch new products or test their knowledge of food laws, science, history and production.

The events give participants a chance to show off while also networking with students from around the world as well as established professionals in the food and beverage industry – and of course, an opportunity to win cash prizes and bragging rights.

During the IFTSA Closing Ceremony on July 16, winners will be announced from the three events, including the IFTSA Smart Snacks for Kids Product Development Competition, the Mars Wrigley Production Development Competition and the trivia-based College Bowl.

Food for kids: Smart Snacks for students, by students

Crafting snacks that children and teens want to eat and which meet the US Department of Agriculture’s Guide to Smart Snacks in Schools, which includes guidelines for whole grains, produce, lean protein and low-fat while also limiting fat, sugar and salt can be a tall order.

But six teams from universities around the world will rise to the challenge and pitch their ideas to an expert panel at IFT FIRST as finalists in the IFTSA Smart Snacks for Kids Product Development Competition.

They hail from:

McGill University​ in Montreal, Canada, where students created Magic Mud Pot – a better-for-you twist on traditional chocolate pudding made with a black bean base, but which is decadent and fun with a two-compartment lid containing vegetable-shaped gummies and a chocolate quinoa crumble as mix-ins.

University of Idaho​ in Moscow, Idaho, where a team created Yabramm Hand Pies – a veggie- and fiber-packed sweet treat that they say parents and kids can agree.

Kasetsart University​ in Bangkok, Thailand, which is home to students who created FIAYA – Wolffia Soya High Protein Mochi Ice Cream made with calcium-fortified soy milk, nutrient-rich duckweed, soy protein isolate and other vitamins and minerals.

University of California, Davis​ in Davis, Calif., Tepeche Tornado is a beverage the student team says is unlike any of its competitors in the market as it will be the "first science experiment" for some children.

Instituto Tecnològico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Campus Querètaro in ​Querètaro, Mexico, where competitors crafted two treats – a sweet avocado dip with chips made with chia and a sweet potato-based crunchy snack “designed to contribute to children’s frontal lobes development.”

First place winners will receive $3,000, second place will take home $1,500 and third place receives $500.

Mars Wrigley Product Development Competition

For the 34th​ Annual IFTSA and Mars Wrigley Product Development Competition, student teams were tasked with developing a new food idea and carrying it through from concept to production, which a team of judges at IFT FIRST will evaluate for overall effectiveness, technical problem-solving, process feasibility, taste and commercial viability.

Pitching at this year’s event are teams from:

University of Florida​, which will enter Bright Bites, a low-sodium, vegan ginger snack cake leavened with potassium bicarbonate and filled with spiced crème filling and topped with lemon jam.

California State Polytechnic University, ​who are submitting Mango Sticky Bites – an Asian fusion dessert that balances five different components ranging from a mango gelee surrounded by sticky rice and mochi and served with a coconut sauce and sesame seeds.

Cornell University​, which has won the competition 11 times since 1995. The team is entering Nonna’s Nopales – a frozen meal kit that pairs creamy, tomatillo-herb sauce with gnocchi from nopal cactus pads for a Mexican twist on an Italian classic.

Oregon State University​, where students created KimCheer – a blend of air-fried tempeh, lotus root, rice paper and purple sweet potato chips with kimchi seasoning.

Chapman University​, from which students are entering a shelf-stable, dairy-based drink – SOL-Spice of Life: Vanilla Chai Cognitive Wellness Beverage. The drink includes L-theanine for a cognitive boost.

McGill University​, at which students created Quinocchis – vegan, cheese-stuffed gnocchi made with upcycled ingredients that doubles as a dessert or meal.

First place winners will receive $3,000, second place will take home $1,500 and third place receives $500.

Trivia Tuesday: College Bowl final

In what IFT calls an “intense but fun trivia-based environment,” students from eight universities will face off in the IFTSA College Bowl Competition, in which they will be tested on their knowledge of food analysis and quality assurance, food chemistry, food regulations, food safety, biotechnology history and questions from across a range of food groups.

Competing teams come from California State Polytechnic University, Brigham Young University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Georgia, University of Arkansas, The Pennsylvania State University, The Ohio State University and Cornell University.

First place winners will take home $1,000 and second place will receive $750.

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