Victory in a national food development competition was a snap for two U of G undergrads.
Maggie Clark and Camille Shniffer won first place in the contest in late August. The students developed NutriSnaps crackers made from lentil, pea and pinto bean flours flavoured with rosemary and sea salt, sundried tomato and herbs, and roasted chili and tamarind.
The duo had won an Ontario competition to land a spot in the national Mission ImPULSEible competition. The annual contest is run by Pulse Canada, representing growers, processors and traders of pulses, including peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas. This year’s competition took place in Winnipeg.
Clark, nutrition and nutraceutical sciences, and Shniffer, food science, wanted their product to contain pulse ingredients, and be gluten-free and nutritious. Crackers offered a potentially open market.
Shniffer said, “We started with research on target consumers, industry analysis and current market trends. We conducted a survey to gain a better understanding of the consumers’ perception and willingness to purchase our product. After four months of product development in the kitchen, we finalized our product with three flavours. It took many sessions of development to have a product that processed well, had good nutritionals and, above all, tasted great.”
She credits the University with helping them prepare for the event.
“I was able to combine and apply the information attained from several of my food sciences courses, and my co-op experience allowed me to better understand the product life cycle and the actualities of the food industry.
“Our professors and TAs helped us with creating our business plan, product development sessions and sensory testing. We learned lessons for developing a product from conception to marketing the finished goods, we were provided working space for development in the sensory kitchen with all necessary equipment, and we were able to use the sensory evaluation booths to test our crackers.”
The students hope to eventually sell their crackers at grocery chains and health food stores, but for the moment are looking to market their products at farmers markets in the Toronto area.