Food Hack by Biobord - international on-line food innovation development workshop and competition - took place 11.03. - 12.03.2021, for two days gathering 6 experts and 13 companies from Sweden, Latvia, Finland, and Estonia to address several specific challenges and develop new products in the field of alternative proteins and functional foods by working in international teams.
Inspiring presentations from experienced experts
The event was filled with inspirational presentations from multiple experts. “Is food only food when you eat it?” by the eating designer Marije Vogelzang (NL) gave several innovative examples of how food can be seen from multiple, more irrational angles, making the experience of food consumption different for each one of us by changing the narrative of different products. Reetta Kivelä, Professor of Practice in University of Helsinki (FI), raised the question “Are we living in a protein boom?”. “Green, blue and red. Exploring alternative proteins and novel foods” was presented by Viktoria Olsson, Senior lecturer, Food & Meal Science at Kristianstad University (SE). Eila Järvenpää, Senior Scientist in Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) gave an insight on diversifying protein sources and their benefits on each of us and our planet. Mari Jaakkola, Project Manager at University of Oulu, Kajaani University Consortium, Unit of Measurement Technology (MITY) (FI), introduced several alternative ways of Lingonberry utilization, as well as fermentation, protein research and special sample treatment techniques. “Global market trends in organic functional proteins and ingredients” was presented by Erkki Pöytäniemi, CEO of Kurmakka Organic Food Ltd. (FI)
The hacking process and results
The teams had a rather difficult task – to solve the challenges and come up with new ideas in the field of alternative proteins and functional foods. Each group were given a possibility to receive a 30-minute consultation from the external experts/coaches, to better understand the right direction towards a solution which was then evaluated by a team of jury.
The challenge “Finding new and different strategies for marketing healthy and nutritious food” was solved by representatives from Aloja-Starkelsen (LV), the largest producer of potato starch in the Baltic states, as well as one of the largest producers of organic potato starch on a global scale; Felici (LV), developers of functional muesli, hot cereal and quick meal of high nutritional value, Ferla (EE), producer of fermented vegetable drink, The Kefir guy (FI), kefir producer and MTÜ Roheliselt Värske Elu (EE), promoters of organic production from small local farmers. The solution provided was based on the step-by-step changes by addressing the society on the benefits gained by plant-based diet.
To solve the challenge “Changing the perception of plant-based protein”, the second team, Suomen Hampputuotteet Oy (FI), investors in pure Finnish raw materials, Lipasu Oy/Härtelö (FI), producers of a new, sustainable base ingredient combined with beloved traditions, Aloja-Starkelsen and Felici, suggested showing the society how to easily cook tasty warm meals that replace animal-based meals and developing superior plant-based snacks by using urban advertising. “Changing the perception of plant-based proteins as an alternative to meat products is achieved through complex activities – the real product to offer, like Hemp-burger, brown pea chunks and fava bean ice cream as well as public education activities.”
The third team represented by GreenBite (EE), the first company in Estonia producing food from insects, BugBox (EE), producers of high-quality ecological and sustainable protein powder in large quantities as alternative to existing animal protein, and Tebrito (SE), sustainable and innovative insect product producers, worked on the challenge “Transforming the attitude towards new products including protein from insects and food”. The innovation of this group consisted of making a fun educational program “WISH to taste a bug?!” which would create interest to taking the first bite resulting in the insects as a regular and normal food.
The challenge “Exploration of new protein resources” gathered companies Lupinta (SE), producers of lupin-based products, MILZU! (LV), producer of a healthy cereal, which turns rye into a special meal, Fagraslätt (SE), organic food producers, Aloja-Starkelsen and Felici. The main factors in making their innovation were the challenges of increasing food waste, and fast-moving lifestyle which motivated the team in making an actual product prototype - plant based vegan pancake DIY, mix, consisting of beer leftovers, brown pea and fava bean protein called “Morning Heaven Magic Mix”. The benefits of this product would be convenient use and production, richness of organic plant-based protein and use of beer processing side-stream ingredients which decreases food waste and develops a more sustainable environment. The first actual product prototype was already developed during the hackathon.
When evaluating each team’s work, several jury criteria regarding the solution vs challenge, process, market potential, level of innovation and sustainability were taken into consideration. “We selected the winner based on the excellent and practical team-work and the process of utilizing all of the groups’ knowledge and local side-streams,” said the jury member when announcing the winner – group number four – developers of Morning Heaven Magic Mix product concept!
What happens next?
The follow-up workshop of the hackathon will take place on the 28th of April 2021 when Lupinta, MILZU!, Fagraslätt, Aloja-Starkelsen and Felici will have a chance to meet more experts and receive consultations to take their product innovation even further. Not only that, but the open part of the workshop will also include new key notes and great international networking possibilities.