Cricket pasta, vegan honey and a fortified buckwheat drink for children were among the original creations revealed at the showcase of innovative new food products. The annual showcase took place recently in the Tourism and Leisure Building at South East Technological University (SETU) in Waterford.

The exhibition provided a platform for new food products developed by 19 students from the BSc Hon in Food Science and Innovation and five students from the BA Hon in Culinary Arts at SETU, as part of their final year research projects.

Director for Food Science and Innovation, Dr Elaine Duggan said, “During their final year, the students develop an innovative food-related product from initial design to formulation, packaging and marketing. The year culminates in showcasing the finished product to industry and the SETU community.

“The showcasing event is a wonderful experience for the students enabling them to proudly show off all their hard work from the year to the wider community. The combination of science, culinary, business, and marketing skills is all tied together in the project with their creative skills showing in their presentation stands.”

According to Dr Duggan, the event was a great success, with a Dawn Meats judge praising the exceptionally high standards of the food products and the students’ enthusiasm.

Final year student in Culinary Arts Meghan Flynn developed a unique cricket pasta product. “Essentially, it is a high protein pasta in a tagliatelle pasta made of an egg-based dough. The ratio is 75 grams of 0-0 flour to 25 grams of cricket powder. It adds up to 32 grams of protein per 100 grams of dough. It is high in protein,” Meghan explained.

Meghan mixed the cricket powder with pasta dough as a “less scary way” of introducing the protein source to the food market.

“Crickets are high in protein, iron and B12, and are almost like a super food. They are 3,000 times more sustainable than a traditional farm animal,” she said.

For her final year project, Aimee Hanrahan devised a vegan honey from potatoes. According to the BSc in Food Science and Innovation student it acts as a natural sugar substitute.

“The vegan honey is flavoured with dandelion and meadowsweet to give a floral flavour that honey would normally have,” said Aimee.

A vegan with five years Aimee said it was difficult to source a suitable sweetener. She decided to make her own with an Irish twist. It involved a process of extracting starch from potatoes.

Forecasting future business success, Aimee entered her product into the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur Awards and is developing a business plan.

Meanwhile, Semeehat Bello created a fortified buckwheat drink for children who struggle to get enough nutrients daily.

“Buckwheat is already a superfood, and I thought, why not add extra vitamins and nutrients to make it more nutritionally beneficial for children? It is naturally flavoured with raspberries and strawberries and has no additives,” said Semeehat.

Semeehat was keen to use sustainable packaging that is child friendly and reusable. Having enjoyed studying Culinary Arts at SETU, Semeehat hopes to undertake a master’s in nutrition. She recommended prospective students interested in culinary arts and food innovation study at SETU.

According to Culinary Lecturer Lorain Walsh the module is unique as it is an interdisciplinary module between the Department of Humanities and the Department of Land Sciences at SETU. “Students of both disciplines work together and engage in peer-to-peer learning, while examining food products from ideation to bench testing,” she explained.

“The students created a wide variety of conceptual food related ideas encompassing new ingredients, packaging solutions or production methods,” said Lorain, “It is a good learning platform, particularly if students wish to continue studying on post graduate programs with food technology industries. For example, with Tírlan, formally Glanbia, Dawn Meats, BIM and Musgrave Graduate programme.”