7 Feb 2019
Day in, day out, retailers throw away food that has reached its ‘sell by’ date but is still safe to consume. How can new business opportunities be created from this food waste? That was the challenge suggested to three student teams from European universities. In the Circular Food Generator Track, an educational project set up by EIT Food, the students were asked to create new product prototypes by valorising residual streams from unsold potatoes, bananas and bread.
Circular Food Generator Track is a competition of the Knowledge Innovation Community ‘EIT Food’, part of the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT). The competition challenges Master or PhD students to develop new, innovative solutions with high commercial potential for and from food losses generated by production facilities and retail activities. In 2018, teams from the University of Reading (UK), the University of Hohenheim (Germany) and the University of Leuven (Belgium) joined this competition. The teams pitched their ideas on how to reuse otherwise wasted potatoes, bananas and bread into tasty and nutritious new products to a jury of industry experts, including beside Puratos also Colruyt Group, DIL and Eufic.
The student teams worked as a start-up. They created a business case that involved the product as well as the packaging and the marketing. Industrial partners supported them with coaching, technical advice, guidance on design and development, piloting and testing. The students spend a day at Colruyt Group to experience the process of food losses, and a day at Puratos to discover, test and experience the characteristics of different sorts of baked goods.
At the end of the project, 3 business cases were presented to the jury.
The UK team developed Potato Globe, a potato croquette baked (not fried) with a range of fillings made from upcycled potatoes and bread crumb.
Abando’Nada, a cake-like bar made from valorised bread and banana, was developed by the Belgian team.
Finally, the German team came up with Banabooms, a banana-based alternative to breakfast cereals, available in multiple flavours.
All teams surprised the jury and presented high potential prototypes. The jury not only judged the tastiness and nutritional value of the product, but also the commercial potential, the amount of food that can be reused and the possibility of taking this prototype into (mass) production. Based on all these factors, the jury declared Banabooms the winner of the Circular Food Generation Track.
The winning team from the University of Hohenheim will now proceed in the start-up competition of EIT Food. In this competition, it’s no longer about product development, but about effective business creation and fundraising to turn their efforts into a real business and get their Banabooms in production. The market is there: Colruyt Group – with supermarkets all over Belgium and Luxembourg – will certainly explore commercialisation.
With the world’s population growing, the demand for food grows equally. This demand for food cannot be covered only by increased production of existing sources. We will need to tap into new sources and valorise existing side-streams as food ingredients. The Food Generator Track is one way in which Puratos contributes to this development. Another important project is the innovation project PROVE, which focuses on the functionalisation and valorisation of alternative plant-based proteins.