UF/IFAS student team wins national Ocean Spray competition

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A team of students from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences recently took home a $5,000 first-place prize at a national Ocean Spray Cranberry competition, dazzling the judges with a scrumptious waffle and dipping syrup product.

The food science graduate students, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, were charged with making a new product for “healthy strivers.” Fifteen schools submitted abstracts, and three teams—UF, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Delaware Valley University—were invited to present their products at Ocean Spray headquarters in Massachusetts.

“The second annual Student Product Development is an effort to build employment brand recognition as well as to spark new ideas internally,” said Ocean Spray spokeswoman Kellyanne Dignan.  “It was a great opportunity and pleasure to host and showcase the truly innovative ideas created by students that represent our values of respect, ownership, innovation and collaboration.”

The UF/IFAS team, led by Ruiqi Li, a food science and human nutrition doctoral student, did market research; selected a product based on the trends; designed the product using the required ingredient; designed the packaging; taste tested the product; and determined the nutritional value of the product. The team, including Brittany Hubbard, Caitlin Soriano, Chi Gao and Mailys Fredericq, whipped up a frozen waffle with a cranberry-based dipping syrup.

Teams were ranked on written reports, presentations and a popular vote from live and web audiences. “We put in a tremendous amount of work to make sure our product met the trend of ‘on-the-go’ breakfast that is also healthy,” Li said. “We tried to be innovative and come up with something unique. It was a team effort and everyone contributed to a great breakfast product.”

Delaware Valley University came in second, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln claimed third place.

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By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

Source: Ruiqi Li, 352-213-3335, richie2048@ufl.edu