ISU Food Entrepreneurship Club enjoys instant success

Entrepreneurship News Student News

New club competing in semi-finals for the National Dairy Council New Product Competition

The checkmark on the “board-approved student organization” box hasn’t even been clicked yet, and already, members of the new Food Entrepreneurship Club are enjoying instant success.

From Left: Heba Shaban — Masters in Food Science and Technology, Karin Cho — Masters of Food Science and Technology, Claudia Arriaga — PhD Human Nutrition, Peter Serrot — Culinary Food Science

While selected as one of six teams competing in the semi-finals at National Dairy Council’s (NDC) New Product Competition in March, the Iowa State University Food Entrepreneurship Club is still in the process of being recognized by the Student Organization Recognition Board (SORB). With just eight members — four of which are competing on the project — the group is already earning a reputation.

This year’s competition asks each group to develop a unique product to match the theme of “Innovative Dairy-Based Products for Gamers.” Product guidelines include:

  • Must contain greater than 51% dairy ingredients by weight of the finished product
  • Use any form of the fresh or dry milk, whey, milk fat, milk proteins, cheese, lactose fractions or other dairy ingredients
  • Provide an excellent source of dairy protein (the product should contain 20% or more of the Daily Value per reference amount)
  • Meet food labeling and regulatory criteria as specified by the Code of Federal Regulations
  • Be fit for human consumption

While not at liberty to discuss the exact parameters of their product ahead of submission deadlines, Club President Peter Serrot said that the club assembled the team back in October 2021 and began working on the project then. After submitting their five-page preliminary report and cover letter, they were accepted to move on to the penultimate phase of the competition. Currently, the group is preparing a finale 10-page report and 18 servings of their product to present virtually to judges. The top three competitors of the six teams, as decided by the judges, will get the opportunity to compete for cash prizes in Kansas City, Missouri, though the NDC will list all six teams as victorious.

“I think it would be a huge boost of confidence for us,” Serrot said. “It would be great if we could win this, by no means have we failed if we don’t. We’ve all learned something great from this. Maybe we get to that club fair next year and we can put that we placed here and convince more students to join. We definitely want to get a second team going.”

While the competition has produced excitement as well as stress among club members, Karin Cho, team member, said that this experience has provided an opportunity not readily available for a lot of students. Now pursuing a master’s degree in Food Science and Technology, Cho came from a small liberal arts college and didn’t have this type of experience available to her. Cho said that these types of competitions give students an opportunity to explore beyond just their academic research projects.

“It is good practice for us to be more resilient when challenges arise,” Cho said. “As with many other things, how much effort you put in is what you’re likely to get out of it. For students who are interested in product development, it’s a highly sought-after job for Iowa State students. Opportunities like these test and sharpen your skills, and improve your insight on being a better developer.”

The Food Entrepreneurship Club is advised by Virginia M. Gladney Professor Stephanie Clark and Nicolas Delchier, of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.