Bare Bites superfood fruit snacks for kids have won UCC’s Dragons’ Den-style Food Innovation Competition, tickling taste buds and showing flair and creativity with their colourful panda bear-themed packaging.
Eight teams of students from the BSc food science and BSc food marketing and entrepreneurship degree programmes competed to devise a food product to meet the approval of a panel of foodie experts.
The winning product is a baked grain and fruit snack in a range of three fruity flavours, which could retail at €1.40 a pack.
“We noticed a gap in the market for health-conscious parents with young children,” said team member Claire Hallissey.
Fellow team member Rachel O’Brien added: “We spent 10 months down in the dungeon of the food science building perfecting the recipe and testing it for things like shelf-life.”
The Bare Bites team will concentrate on developing the commercial potential of their product and would like to see it on supermarket shelves.
High-protein super-grain quinoa featured heavily in the competition offerings, which ranged from refrigerated solid protein shakes to buffalo salami, to vegan quinoa pâté.
Adrienne Rogers, from sponsors Cork City Local Enterprise Office, was joined by fellow dragon Clare Nash of Nash 19 restaurant, John Hunter from Teagasc, and Ben Itty of Amber Consulting to taste and judge the submissions.
Innovation and taste weren’t enough to meet the high standards of the judges, who also considered the teams’ business and marketing know-how. They took into account all the scientific and business challenges of running a food business, from ingredient selection and shelf-life testing to consumer studies, focus groups, and business planning.
“They grill you on every aspect of your business plan, so you really need to know your stuff,” said Barry Collins, as he handed out samples of his team’s product, “Thrive”, a chilled whey-protein fruit juice, after their turn in the dragons’ den.
Combining the talents of the food marketing and food science departments was a strength of the contest, said organiser Dr Alan Kelly, Food Sciences Department.
“This represents the culmination of a lot of hard work from the teams and it’s the highlight of their academic year.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved