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New food products head to school

New food products head to school

NuEats brand part of Manitoba Agri-Health Research Network’s effort to promote functional foods made from Manitoba-grown ingredients

Barley waffles and tortilla chips, a yogurt-granola bar, and sundaes topped with saskatoons and oatmeal are some of the made-in-Manitoba foods headed to university this month — for a taste test.

If they pass, they’ll be launched under the “NuEats” brand, and put on the menu at University of Manitoba cafeterias and eateries.

On any given day up to 25,000 people are on campus, so it’s a great test market, said Lee Anne Murphy, executive director of the Manitoba Agri-Health Research Network. The hope is the healthy products will catch on with students — and catch the interest of food manufacturers, she said.

“We wanted to give these really interesting products a chance to shine,” said Murphy. “If they’re commercially viable, we want someone else to take it to market.”

The NuEats program is a partnership with the U of M’s faculty of food science to “micro-commercialize” new and natural products using healthy local ingredients.

There are six products in all. Three were tested by the Manitoba Agri-Health Research Network’s cluster — which includes the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods, the Food Development Centre, and Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine.

One was the PrairieBerry sundae, made in small batches at the little dairy in the Agriculture and Food Sciences building. The sundae, made with saskatoons and oatmeal, was a hit, so it’s been accepted for the NuEats brand. A buckwheat snack also passed muster and is also ready to be launched.

It’s hoped the initiative will get students in food sciences and human nutritional sciences programs interested in developing food products, said Murphy.

Already a group of recent graduates asked NuEats organizers for help with their prototype product, she said.

“These are kids with jobs and coming back on their own time to figure out how to get this going,” she said.

“So we’ve got engaged students, some cool products and maybe some commercial successes too.”

To be eligible to carry the NuEats brand, products must contain ingredients with some connection to Manitoba Agri-Health Research Network. People with products that don’t fit that criteria should contact Growing Opportunities (GO) staff at Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, she said.

About the author

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Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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