SUN VALLEY, Idaho – A team of food science students from Utah State University won the 2019 Idaho Milk Processors Association new product competition Aug. 10. They not only earned some serious bragging rights, but $10,000, too, at IMPA’s annual meeting in Sun Valley, Idaho, for their grand-prize-winning new product idea – Moogets, a delectable meatless chicken nugget substitute made with breaded, deep-fried paneer cheese.
Supported by Dairy West and judged by leading dairy farmers and industry experts, the annual contest challenges universities with strong nutrition and food science programs to create the most promising new food product containing at least 50 percent dairy ingredients. Organizers say it connects bright kids to the dairy industry and provides them with an opportunity to grow and learn and gain leadership skills.
Garnering fifth place and $1,000, the South Dakota State University team developed Nutrifusion – a 300-calorie meal-replacement beverage that combines quality protein from milk protein concentrate with sweet whey, soy, and 12 essential vitamins and minerals for a balanced meal. Best enjoyed when chilled, Nutrifusion’s three flavors – Coffee Dawn, Chocolate Delight, and Berry Blast – can be enjoyed by people who are lactose intolerant, because the lactose present is hydrolyzed using lactase in the production process.
“A key focus behind the Nutrifusion product was to develop a new product category that utilizes whey byproduct to extract soy protein,” the SDSU team writes in its final report. “When compared to a milk-based or soy-based product alone, Nutrifusion – a blend of dairy and soy – has increased nutritional profiles, along with a significant reduction in ingredient costs.”
SDSU’s team is comprised of Achyut Mishra, Shayanti Minj, Pratishtha Verma, and Shouyun Cheng. Lloyd Metzger serves as faculty advisor.
Participating in IMPA’s new product competition can be career defining, too. Last year’s winning team from BYU recently inked a deal to license its Sparkling Scoops carbonated, hard-pack ice cream exclusively to a top U.S.-based multinational consumer foods manufacturer and marketer that’s been a Fortune 500 company since the list’s inception.
“The growing innovation these students bring to bear each year is incredible, and it’s very exciting for our industry,” new product competition chair Alan Reed says. “When we launched the competition 10 years ago, the teams were just suggesting basic, traditional dairy products and a few new flavors. Now we’re seeing true innovation, and collectively I think this is the best group of new products students have entered since we began the competition.”
Eric Bastian, vice president of industry relations for Dairy West and director of the Western Dairy Center at Utah State, concurs. “We’ve had some standout product concepts in the past, but every submission this year was a really good product,” he says. “Even the fourth-place and fifth-place teams could have won the competition in prior years.”
This year’s grand-prize winner, Utah State University, says its Moogets meatless, cheese-based chicken nuggets are 100 percent vegetarian and a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamin B12. The recipe includes vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast to yield a meaty texture. And prior to being dipped in milk and coated with a breadcrumb/whey isolate powder mixture for frying, the nuggets are boiled in a vegetarian chicken broth to ensure uniform chicken flavor.
“Moogets have three times the amount of protein when compared to top vegetarian products already in stores, and also provide a great source of vitamins that vegetarians frequently have deficiencies in,” the Utah State team writes in its final report. “Dairy protein, with the added benefit of extra calcium, gives our product a competitive edge in the growing vegetarian market. The use of whey protein isolate in the coating adds an additional source of high-quality protein.
“Vegetarians have a higher prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to a number of health issues. Moogets provide a unique set of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to fill a need that is not currently being met in the marketplace. The target market for Moogets are vegetarians, as well as consumers looking to reduce or limit their meat intake.”
The Utah State team is comprised of Melissa Marsh, Jung Mun Yang, Ireland Green, Savannah Branson, and Sophie Overbeck. Dave Irish serves as faculty advisor.
Brigham Young University - Idaho, which submitted a nonfat, yogurt-based marshmallow called Yo-Mallow made with natural colors in a variety of popular flavors, captured second place and $5,000.