Food innovations were on the menu at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Agriculture Food and Environment in Rehovot late-June as entrepreneurs, food industries, academics, and investors flocked to taste the products of the future.
The FoodTech Nation 2018 exhibition and conference opened for the first time on the faculty’s verdant lawns, drawing hundreds of participants, including representatives of international food companies curious to see what the startup nation could provide in terms of new food products.
Aside from lectures on the topic of food innovation, five teams of students showcased their food tech inventions, the outcome of the final work for the course ” New food product development ” conducted by Dr. Tammy Meiron, an expert in food innovation, biotech executive and food tech consultant.
“The purpose of our class is to give to the students the tools to find the “next food product.” In today’s world if you don’t find the next product you will not survive the competition,” Meiron told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).
Each team was matched with a food company that helped the students in the process of the production and choice of materials.
The inventions on display included MOSCATJNA, (An amalgamation of the Italian for flies , ‘Mosca’ and gelatin) a high protein ice cream made powdered larvae of fruit flies. The team worked in collaboration with Flying Spark, an insect-based sustainable protein start-up, to make peanut butter ice cream and a blackcurrant sorbet.
The challenge was to preserve smooth texture of ice cream using the larvae powder which has a low solubility.
“The texture of the peanut butter ice cream is smoother than the one of the sorbet because the powder could better melt in the oily peanut surroundings. The sorbet has still a sandy taste, but we will continue to work on it,” Ariel Rudik, one of the students told TPS.
TerraBites is an energy snack enriched with nutritional fibers originating from avocado pulp left after the fruit is pressed for oil production. The snack contains double the quantity of fibers of existing snacks: each snack contain 20 percent fibers while a normal energy snack contains only 8 percent. The students produced a powder from the avocado waste that is mixed with other ingredients such as dates and nuts. Grinfeld Natural Food Products, one of the biggest producers of cold-pressed avocado oil, provided the avocado waste to the students and Tivit Products from Nature, a company specializing in the production of sugar-free snacks based on natural ingredients, provided the machinery to produce the new snack.
Another team decided to produce two different kits of frozen pre-prepared ingredients in frozen cubes: one to make a mixture of yellow curry and the other to make alcoholic cocktails. In the yellow curry kit, every cube is made of a different ingredient: curry, fried onion, garlic, and ginger. Consumers mix the cubes to get the curry paste.
“We wanted the end user to feel they are cooking and that the product is not completely pre-prepared,” said Shlomit Lemper, one of the students.
The cocktail kits contain frozen cubes made of pear syrup, mint and lemon juice that can be added to alcohol and water. The students said their major challenge was to find the right type of sugar that was soluble with all the ingredients and quickly freeze.
Tnuva, the largest food manufacturer in Israel, helped another team to develop a tropical fruit delicacy based on coconut cream and tapioca, a starch extracted from cassava root mainly used in South America and Asia. The starch in tapioca stabilizes the ingredients making them easy to eat with a spoon.
The fifth and final team proposed Reesless, a candy very similar to the well known Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that consist of a chocolate cup filled with peanut butter. The students succeeded in diminishing the sugar content from 47 gr. per 100 gr to 7 gr, using stevia a natural sugar substitute produced from the Stevia rebaudiana plant species. Their challenge was to melt the stevia in a fatty surrounding (peanuts), while usually it is soluble only in water.
Faculty member Prof. Oded Shoseyov, a serial biotech inventor, said food tech is only at the beginning, in Israel and around the world, but predicted Israel will soon emerge as a world leader.
“Israelis are not afraid to jump into the water, and know how to bring technologies into the marketplace,” Shoseyov said.
Written by Mara Vigevani/TPS | Photo by TPS