A student competition has seen food waste – bread, bananas, and potatoes – turned into business opportunities.

The Circular Food Generator Track project, funded by EIT Food, saw student teams from the University of Reading, University of Hohenheim and KU Leuven develop ideas to create new products reusing bread, bananas and potatoes.

The three student teams presented their products to a panel of industry experts on the 26 November. The jury consisted of representatives from each of the industrial partners, Colruyt Group, EUFIC, DIL and Puratos, as well as a Business Creation representative from EIT Food. The winning team won a cash prize of (€1,000) and the possibility to apply for funding to further develop the product.

Dr Paola Tosi, the lead academic from the University of Reading supporting the project said:

“We’re excited that the University of Reading is taking part in this project and our involvement has helped to highlight the strength of Reading’s role as a leader in food education. The project has been a great opportunity for the students involved to work on a real issue. The opportunity to develop solutions that may lead to financial and sustainability benefits is a real plus for their future careers, and support from industry has been a key aspect that has made the experience especially valuable”.

Each University taking part in the competition recruited six postgraduate students to form a multidisciplinary team. The teams each received support from industrial partners in the form of coaching as well as guidance on the design and development of new food products and business models from the selected food waste products.

The Reading team focused on potatoes nearing their sell by date and developed a croquette-type product called ‘Potato Globe’, available in three different fillings. The idea was inspired by the diverse backgrounds of the students involved. The team from KU Leuven developed a banana bread recipe to be sold in the form of snack bars while from the University of Hohenheim produced a banana-based breakfast cereal.

EIT Food is a European Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC), part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

For more information about EIT Food, take a look at their website: https://www.eitfood.eu/