A granola that saves food from landfill: from idea to product launch

A granola that saves food from landfill: from idea to product launch

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What happens when you bring together a group of students from different courses under the guidance of experienced coaches to tackle a social problem? You get great ideas. And one of those ideas is about to hit the shelves: Délicé, a granola made from the surplus from processing cranberries.

Délicé is the result of an idea that came out as a winner in the Generation Food makeathon in September 2020. With financial support from the Province of Flemish-Brabant, Generation Food joins forces with Rikolto, KU Leuven, UCLL University College, Boerenbond, EIT Food, the City of Leuven, Proefand Berkuus to stimulate innovation and boost entrepreneurs starting in the food sector.

During the makeathon, students of food and dietetics, business management and applied computer science programmes were presented with a tough challenge: "Find a solution for by-products that are not fully valorised today. After two intensive days of brainstorming, working together, developing prototypes..., six concepts finally emerged. It took the jury a long time to decide on the winner: A granola enriched with apple pulp.

The pulp is a by-product that would otherwise be processed into cattle feed but which, in a granola, provides extra fibre. Dietary fibre has a beneficial effect on health, but current fibre consumption is too low compared to recommendations. "It had a lot of potential due to its easy implementation and the business pitch was also promising. The decisive factor was the considerable amount of processed residual waste from the overall product," said Amy Verbeke of Robin Food, one of the judges.

From idea to prototype

Meanwhile, time has not stood still. Students of nutrition and dietetics have carefully worked out the recipe for the granola. In the meantime, a group of young student-entrepreneurs is also working on the launch of the product.

The multidisciplinarity between the students strengthened the idea, which was then translated into reality by the nutrition and dietetics students. After the makeathon, a group of students within the industrial food production course developed the recipe further. First, they put down on paper exactly what had to be developed. Then, together with the granola producer Zoete Potjes and the student entrepreneurs, they discussed which requirements the final product had to meet.

Finally, there was an end evaluation in which the students presented a number of products to the producer and the entrepreneurs of the start-up. The product at that point looked completely different and the apple pulp was replaced by surplus cranberries. After tasting and discussing the different prototypes, two products were chosen. An extensive report was written about these. Zoete Potjes then went to work on this. They scaled it up to their production process.

From prototype to enterprise

In February, the start-up students officially started their internship. They are doing an alternative internship, in which they set up their own company under the guidance of the coaches of UCL StartMinds. This is a platform that helps students with the start-up of their business and sharpens their business skills.

Four young entrepreneurs took part in a makeathon in September. This way, they got involved in the product development. During the start-up, they each made contributions to marketing (communication), finance and applied computer science respectively. Since February, they have been working full-time with this shared knowledge on bringing the granola to the market.

"The development of the business plan, the search for the perfect name, the development of the packaging, the setting up of a web shop... a lot has happened to launch the granola," says Natan Abeloos, one of the students of the start-up. Now the time has come: from Monday 15 March onwards the granola will be commercially available under the name Délicé. The core idea behind the product already emerged at the makeathon in September.

Multidisciplinary cooperation

The social problem of waste streams that are not, or not sufficiently, used for human consumption lies at the heart of this project. It is therefore a very relevant subject, in which several partners are involved. UCLL University College, Flanders Food, Rikolto, Zoete Potjes, Konings NV and Generation Food were all involved.

The students who participated in the makeathon and the start-up also worked together on a multidisciplinary basis. This resulted in a lot of positive feedback from both lecturers and students, said Kristel Vanhoof and Yvon Ijsseldijk, lecturers in Nutrition and Dietetics. "A mutual respect arose between the different programmes. Things were looked at from a new point of view, which would never have made such an impact during a theory lesson". The students of the start-up also say that they learn a lot from each other and really need each other to be able to launch the product properly.

It took a huge journey from an idea to a product launch. This journey does not stop when the granola is produced. The start-up will have to run its own business from now on.

An initiative such as the Makeathon can achieve great things, as it turned out. The cooperation between the various partners and the multidisciplinary collaboration of the students was the key to the success. This will hopefully inspire other students or young entrepreneurs, which will undoubtedly lead to more such success stories.

Did you get interested in the granola after reading? You can order it now on the website:


Text: Jana Peel