Innovative Food Alternatives: Plant-Based Spirulina-Infused Seaweed Chicken
The recent SIT and Massey University Food Technology Project Exhibition and Industry Engagement Day showcased the SITizens’ creativity in constructing innovative food products. The Plant-based Seaweed Chicken with Spirulina emerged as one of the top three projects with its use of a novel ingredient.
Plant-based Seaweed Chicken with Spirulina, created in collaboration with Roquette.
With plant-based alternatives gaining traction, the team – comprising Ng Mun Yee, Nuha Iesa, Grace Chua, Quek Xing Yu, and Loke Yin Theng – partnered with Philippines-based plant-based food manufacturer Worth the Health Foods (WTH Foods) and leading industry ingredients manufacturer Roquette to create the Plant-based Seaweed Chicken with Spirulina. Riding on the popular finger food, seaweed chicken, the re-creation of a plant-based version is novel and potentially highly marketable.
The students’ version of the product is infused with spirulina, a superfood that contains high nutritional benefits, such as high proteins and a balanced amino acid profile – targeted to appeal to consumers who are consciously making informed choices and seeking healthier, more environmentally sustainable dietary options. The plant-based version is made with NUTRALYS® plant protein by Roquette, mixed with a blend of seasonings, and spirulina as an alternative to the meat component of the product. It is then wrapped with seaweed for a boost of flavour and nutrition.
“We intend to target young working adults aged 21-40, as they are more attuned to the latest health news and trends. These are savvy, digitally-connected consumers with information at their fingertips to make informed choices in their daily lives,” said Nuha.
SIT and Massey University Food Technology students (from left) Grace Chua, Quek Xing Yu, Loke Yin Theng, Nuha Iesa and Ng Mun Yee creating Plant-based Seaweed Chicken with Spirulina in a lab at SIT@Dover.
About 30 products were conceptualised during the ideation stage, and the team utilised design thinking, coupled with intensive market research to narrow down their iterations to their final product. Early iterations included plant-based fish balls, calamari rings, and chicken wrapped in bean curd skin.
“Based on the insights gathered from the consumer surveys we conducted, it was found out that the idea of plant-based seaweed chicken excited most consumers. We then further refined the product through numerous formulation optimisation and pilot plant trials, where we modified the amounts and ratios of ingredients, and varied the cooking methods, before arriving at the final product,” explained Nuha.
The team with industry partner Ms Tracy Lim, Technical Developer, Roquette (fourth from left), with their creation – Plant-based Seaweed Chicken with Spirulina, at the Food Technology Project Exhibition and Industry Engagement Day 2021 by SIT and Massey University.
The team’s ingenious combination of nutritious and novel ingredients earned the praise of the panel of judges, comprising academic leaders from the Chemical Engineering and Food Technology cluster, as well as members of the Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) of the Food Technology programme including Nestle, KH Roberts Group and Tereos Asia.
“The incorporation of spirulina into the team’s product was interesting. While spirulina is undoubtedly an ingredient that provides many health benefits, its taste, colour and texture can be unappealing. However, the students bravely attempted the challenge, and created a promising product,” shared Dr Allan Lim, Chairman, IAC, Food Technology, SIT.
The annual ‘Food Technology Project Exhibition and Industry Engagement Day’ by SIT and Massey University is a culmination of learning outcomes from final-year Food Technology students. It presents an opportunity for graduating students to pitch their food products and business cases to both faculty and industry partners, applying the knowledge acquired over their four years of studies. These innovative projects include a comprehensive look into the students’ idea generation, prototyping, proposals for scaling up, capital and operating cost estimates, food safety, and risk analyses.
Look out for upcoming features on Vegan Chilli Crab Pie and 3D-printed Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies.
Image credits: SITizens Ng Mun Yee, Nuha Iesa, Grace Chua, Quek Xing Yu, and Loke Yin Theng