Loughry Food Students in Avondale Challenge

June 3, 2022

Students at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) benefit from the college’s close connections with the agri-food industry. Each year, partnering with Avondale Foods, National Diploma Food students are challenged to develop a new food product with commercial viability. This task encourages Loughry Campus stduents to connect with a food business and gain first-hand experience of new product development. Utilising the extensive food technology and innovation facilities the students aim to create consumer acceptable products.

Avondale Foods set the second year students on the ‘Food Science and Manufacturing Technology’ and ‘Food Nutrition and Health’ courses with the mission to create a product, developing the concept from paper through to production.

Having been presented with the new product development briefs, five student teams got to the task in hand to consider new food products ideas. With ingredients, processing, pricing and packaging in mind the students carried out extensive research and development to produce innovative, tasty products.

When selecting and conceptualising their product ideas all of the groups had to consider sustainability, the products’ carbon footprint, minimal use of plastic and meet the requirement of being nut and sesame free.

Working in the Food Innovation Centre at Loughry Campus the students explored their creativity and experimented with unusual flavour combinations to develop a product that met their development brief.

Judging took place at Loughry Campus, with a team of technical experts from Avondale Foods assessing each of the products created. On the day, three teams were announced as winners of the Avondale Challenge.

The top product was awarded to the team who developed Raspberry and White Chocolate cookies as a healthy vegan ‘Breakfast on the Go’ product. The team comprised Hollie-Mae Sweetlove (Ballynahinch), James Lockhart (Aughnacloy) and Katie Hammond (Coagh) who received a cash prize. The group will also be awarded the Samuel Geddis Perpetual Trophy at their Graduation Ceremony later in June.

Avondale staff Antonia Rogan (Head of New Product Development), James Smyth (Product Development Chef) and Renata Lima (Product Development Manager) congratulate the winning students; Katie Hammond (Coagh), Hollie-Mae Sweetlove (Ballynahinch) and James Lockhart (Aughnacloy) on creating their ‘breakfast on the go’ product. Pictured with the judges is Shane McKinney (Head of Food Education, CAFRE).

Second prize was awarded to a cheesy cauliflower dish topped with a chunky stuffing which was designed to reflect and celebrate British culture and heritage, in the form of a meal accompaniment. The students involved in its creation were Lauren Hanthorn (Armagh), Hannah McClinchie (Tandragee) and Emily McIvor (Moneymore).

Judith Oliver and Emeryn Erwin (Food Lecturers, CAFRE) congratulate Lauren Hanthorn (Armagh) and Hannah McClinchie (Tandragee) on their ‘cheesy cauliflower’ creation for the Avondale Foods Challenge. Missing from the photograph is Emily McIvor (Moneymore).

The third prize was awarded to the ‘root to stalk’ team, who had the challenge of developing an innovative vegetable based meal accompaniment. The students in this group were Rachel Black (Portrush), Emma McCrea (Strabane) and Sarah Jane Hendry (Richhill).

Judith Oliver (Food Lecturer, CAFRE) congratulated Rachel Black (Portrush), Emma McCrea (Strabane) and Sarah Jane Hendry (Richhill) on their ‘root to stalk’ new product idea for the Avondale Foods Challenge.

Speaking at the product sampling and judging event Antonia Rogan, Head of Product Development at Avondale Foods, also herself a Loughry Graduate, commended the students saying,

“We set you five new product development briefs, to create foods that were different. We certainly had a challenge in front of us today to select winning products. All the ideas were great and addressed the product briefs. You have demonstrated that you could enter into the food industry and add value to a product development team. I applaud you all and wish you every success in the future.”

If a career in the food industry interests you the Level 3 National Diploma in Food courses are an excellent alternative to A-Levels. They provide students with the opportunity to progress on to Higher Education courses or enter employment within the agri-food sector.

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