Wij Inholland award 2019: VeggieSlices
'Enjoy your Veggies in a Slice!'
Dried fruit and vegetables slices for consumption. That’s VeggieSlices. Created by Food Commerce & Technology students Mabel Engels and Marije Gelderloos. Worldwide food waste is the reason to develop this product. Mabel: “We tried to find a solution for fruit and vegetable waste. With VeggieSlices we battle against this waste."
About a third of all food produced worldwide goes to waste. 44 percent of this consists of fruit and vegetables, half of which is wasted during production. These fruit and vegetables do not meet the strict quality requirements. Like the correct shape, colour, no brown spots, etcetera. As a result a lot of good food goes to waste. Marije: “By developing a new, healthy and delicious product, we give these residual flows a new life."
How can I use VeggieSlices?
Mabel: "There are various applications for the dried vegetable slices. Wraps, spreads or very thinly sliced as wraps for sushi. We are currently investigating which application has the most potential." Marije: "We’ve tested different types of fruit and vegetables for this. We’ve pureed these fruits and vegetables and dehydrated them so all the moisture comes out. Not every fruit is suitable we discovered. Bananas for example, turn into brown ‘slime’. Tomatoes and strawberries on the other hand, looked great. They kept their colour, consistency and taste."
That sounds great! How did you come up with the idea to further develop this?
Mabel: “After coming up with VeggieSlices in year three, our teacher motivated us to develop the product further. So we contacted several companies that could help us. Eventually we came in contact with Food Fellows. This company cooperates with Harvest House, one of the largest growers associations in the Netherlands. Food Fellows invents and produces processed products as a solution for the residual flows of Food Fellows.”
How do you make the slices?
Marije: “You puree tomatoes for example and spread them out. The hot air in the oven takes all the moisture out and dries the tomatoes. To prevent micro-organisms in the puree, the tomato is first pasteurized." Mabel: "The advantage of our product is that you can process 'mavericks': vegetables and fruits that look a bit different. Of course you can’t see this in the end product."
You are now graduating at Food Fellows. Do you both have the same assignment?
Mabel: “It’s not very common for two students from the same program to do an internship at the same company. Therefore we have strict boundaries, because it must be an individual assignment. We cannot depend on each other. That’s why Marije focuses on quality and I focus on product development." Marije: "We’ve learned to take initiative and approach a company ourselves. This is how we ended up at Food Fellows. Also, we didn’t go through the existing internship assignments, but took initiative to find our own internship.”
What does the future of VeggieSlices look like?
Mabel: “Our focus is on developing the product. We will then look at how we are going to market it, in collaboration with Food Fellows. They are also developing tomato products such as sauce and soup. Our product fits nicely into this range. We are happy to remain involved in the development.”
What tip do you have for students?
Marije: Just try! You never know what this brings you. I notice that people like to help. So just do it! Mabel agrees: “Present your idea. Positive feedback inspires you and motivates you enormously! It also gives you more opportunities. If you keep your idea to yourself, nobody will ever know about it."
Wij Inholland gives students the opportunity to raise awareness for their projects. A platform on which they can distinguish themselves with an innovative and multidisciplinary project. This project should focus on either health, sustainability or creativity. Moreover, it should also add a regional value by working in close collaboration with a (local) company, institution or community. The winning team receives practical support and a € 2000, - cheque.