University of Manitoba food science students competed at this year’s Agriculture in the City to see which new food product would win top prize in the Food Fight Competition, held March 18 at The Forks Market Square.
Out of the five new products that were presented, which included a pumpkin yogurt, high-protein soy noodles, popcorn snack bars, and celiac-friendly granola snacks, the one that came out on top was Manitoba Mustard. A spicy, sweet twist on the traditional favourite, Manitoba Mustard is unique not only for its flavouring, but for the fact that four of the main ingredients are grown or produced in Manitoba: horseradish, blueberries, mustard seed and honey.
Though the judges were quite happy with the product, the team members were surprised by their win and will discuss as a group whether they see a future for their mustard on store shelves.
“We are quite surprised that we won today, but we are definitely going to talk and think about it. Now that we know it’s a great product and there is availability for it, the sky’s the limit. We will see where it goes,” said Kerri Muzyka, a nutritional science major. The team had only started developing the project in January.
Along with awarding the top prize, the three judges, Dave Shambrock executive director of Manitoba Food Processors Association, Judy Wilson from the Asper School of Business and Doug Speirs a humour columnist with theWinnipeg Free Press,gave helpful advice to each group during their individual presentations.
Comments on production, taste and marketing were all discussed and provided helpful information to not only the contest participants, but to the audience on what it takes to make a product taste good and be sellable.
Agriculture in the City officials say that this contest is an excellent opportunity for the students to learn about the food production industry and get a new product off the ground.
One of last year’s groups went on to place second at the annual American Association of Cereal Chemists International (AACCI) Product Development Competition held in Savannah, Georgia, with their product “The Beta Fruit Bar,” a bi-layered (apple and blueberry) gluten- free, naturally sweetened, oat glucan bar with dried fruits. The University of Manitoba students were the only Canadians as well as the undergraduate team at the international competition.
The Food Fight Competition is one of many events featured at Ag in the City this year. The three-day event which runs Friday to Sunday was started six years ago as an opportunity for city people to explore the vibrant and innovative world of agriculture and get a chance to discover how agriculture impacts our daily lives.