Cooking up a storm at UCB

University College Birmingham Students€™ showcase their products for AVA’€™s 2014 ‘Culinary Product Development Challenge’€™

Final year students on the Culinary Arts Management Programme at University College Birmingham (UCB) showcased a fantastic range of innovative new products they have developed for the ‘Culinary Product Development’ module. This activity is the result of an ongoing partnership between The Automatic Vending Association (AVA) and UCB.

The students worked in teams to develop a snack product for each of the six areas served by the vending industry: business and industry; education; healthcare; leisure; staff catering and transport. The new products ranged from flavoured popcorn clusters and gluten free cakes, to a selection  of dips and snack boxes based on global cuisine and an all-day breakfast box.  The products, made with ingredients including oats, chia seeds and beetroot, and with an average of less than 325kcals a portion, really demonstrated just how much vending is changing. Many of the products were also suitable for those on a nut or dairy free diet, reflecting the growing consumer demand for Free From foods.

The students presented their products to an industry panel including Tim Franklin-Heys Head of Culinary Team at Unilever Food Solutions, Andy Dixon, Sector Manager Cost and Vending at Mondeléz, as well as Richard Ehrlich, Chair of the Guild of Food Writers and lecturers from UCB.

Alongside developing the products themselves, many of the teams also created distinctive branding and packaging with supporting collateral such as videos and online content including Twitter profiles and Facebook pages.

Jonathan Hilder, the AVA’s CEO says that the whole panel was very impressed with the students and their work: “This is the second year we have run the Culinary Product Development Challenge and once again the students from UCB have excelled themselves in producing a range of innovative and quality products that could be used across the complete vending industry. Each team clearly met the brief they were given to develop products that address the issues of today, such as obesity, allergens and government regulations, but also deliver in terms of taste and appearance. In doing this the students have highlighted the opportunities that exist for vending now and in the future.  The AVA is delighted with its partnership with UCB and the results it is achieving in terms of helping to drive demand for a greater choice in vending and in particular for healthier solutions, for this vital and growing retail sector.”

Bernhard Schumacher, Module Leader for the BA (Hons) Culinary Arts Management, University College Birmingham, is equally pleased with the partnership with the AVA and the benefit this module offers the students.  “The module and the Culinary Challenge provide a unique opportunity for students to learn about vending and develop products that meet the needs of this important retail channel. It also allows the students to showcase their skills to the industry, thereby helping them with future career prospects.”

Following this week’s event the AVA has invited the students to present their products and marketing materials to a judging panel in April, when prizes will be awarded to the winning teams.


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