The challenge is designed to come up with new vended food and drink products with healthier nutritional profiles. The winning product will now go on sale at the NHS Trust in Bristol as part of a healthy vending trial, with plans to roll the idea out across the country over the next few years if the trial proves successful.
Overall across the UK, the vending market is estimated by the AVA to be worth around £1.65bn, with some 5.5bn vends per year. The vending sector has come under sustained attack from health lobbyists in recent years for the high proportion of food and drink high in salt, sugar and fat that is sold.
The winning team, called Goosefoot, came up with a winning concept, which comprised two quinoa bars – one sweet and one savoury – self-contained in carbon-friendly packaging. The six teams involved in the challenge had been given the task of developing a tasty new range of vending products that met calls for healthier vending alternatives.
The quinoa bars were selected at the challenge held last Tuesday (December 9) by a panel of judges consisting of representatives from across the food, health and vending sectors, including food firms Unilever and Mondelēz.
Goosefoot developed its idea for a quinoa bar after spotting a gap in the vending market for a healthy snack bar that was free from allergens and artificial ingredients. Team members were Simon Whitby, Amelia Pratten, James Wood, Chris Luscombe, Michael Chatwin and Gavin Youngson.
“In light of [NHS England ceo] Simon Stevens’ latest announcement, that puts NHS staff at the helm of a bid to tackle rising obesity rates, our work with UCB and the generation that will shape the nation’s future becomes ever more important,” said AVA ceo Jonathan Hilder.
“We challenged the students to not only develop vendable, tasty, healthy products, but to also look at vending from a whole new perspective. This is key to driving improved customer perceptions of an industry that, despite the connotation, works tirelessly behind the scenes to meet the evolving needs of our society.”
The judges cited Goosefoot as showing “absolute passion” for its product, which met all of the target criteria of being a vending snack product that was nutritionally balanced, tasty, well thought out and under 250 calories.
The UCB challenge follows the AVA’s recent announcement of its partnership with the UK weight-loss surgeon, Dr Sally Norton, who is based at the NHS Trust in Bristol and helped judge the contest.
“Seeing what can be achieved by a contingent of young talent in just a few short weeks really highlights the opportunity for the healthy and nutritionally balanced snacking market,” said Norton.
“I am sure that the quinoa bar by Goosefoot will be a great success in Bristol, and will really pave the way for a new and improved long-term approach to vending, using it as a solution to healthier lifestyles, rather than hindrance.”
Andy Dixon, sector head at Mondelēz commented: “It was a unanimous decision – all of the judges were in total agreement that they would happily bring Goosefoot’s product to market. The team showed a strong understanding of quinoa and as a result, they delivered an end to end piece that we all felt would excel as a vending product.”
Fellow judge Tim Franklyn Hays, head of culinary service team at Unilever, added: “The standard today has been exceptionally high. The reason we chose Goosefoot as the winner was because of their total innovation and clear understanding of the product.”
The winning team will attend the AVEX International vending event in 2015 next June where its members will have a stand in the health and wellbeing area to exhibit the new product. On the last night of the show they will also attend the Vending Awards where they will receive their prize.