The AVA continued to work with the University College Birmingham through 2018, with its continued support of the annual catering competition. This year the contest was won by the team Catherine A Watson with its gluten free and vegan macaroons, Aquarons.

The winning team and the judging panel: From left, Mike Saltmarsh, Kennedy Procter, Andy Slade, Geordy Mutombo Mpoyi, Diane Hunter, Patrick Clack, Angelica Adamos, Chace Wagenhauser, Monika Martuzeviciute, Harry Simmonds, Barbara Nunes Cunha Martins De Carvalho, David Llewellyn, Roger Williams

The annual catering competition helps to inspire the next generation of would-be product developers and give them the opportunity to consider vending as a viable product outlet.

The students consider the product, cost, packaging and marketing, and then the items are all taste-tested and reviewed by an AVA panel of experts.

The contest consisted of 11 groups of between five to seven students who are currently studying at the college. The competition was a part of their first module in which they had 12 weeks to create a brand, product and business strategy.

The brief of the contest was to create a product that would be sold within vending machines and each product was to focus on a different sector of the vending industry. These sectors included educational, environmental, work place, travel and healthcare. Students had to keep branding in mind, as well as packaging when considering how the product would perform in vending machines.

Chief executive of AVA, David Llewellyn said: “This was by far the best year, in terms of creativity, branding and product detail, we have seen so far. The quality of the students work was some of the best we have seen and each student should be proud of themselves.”

Many of the students had used innovative ideas within their brand. One particular team, Nature’s Goodness, had decided to use a bio-degradable plastic made from seaweed in which consumers would water into their house plants for added nutrition. The ideas didn’t stop there, however. Many of the teams had focused their ideas and creativity on the current social issues we are facing, such as the nutritional guidelines, plastic tax and even Brexit, for when it came to sourcing ingredients and materials.

With such a high standard set amongst the young adults, it was the AVA’s pleasure to announce that the product Aquarons from the team Catherine A Watson, amazed the judging panel and had won the contest. Their absolute attention to detail and impeccable branding, astonished the panel with more than one judge stating, “this product is ready to go to market now”.

Aquarons are gluten free and vegan macaroons, featuring a variety of flavours such as Earl Grey & Blueberry and Lemon & Ginger. The actual product was high quality and nutritional, making it perfect for vending machines. With a marketing plan already in place which included social media and an outstanding website, this team had really worked hard to create such a strong brand and product.

Two other teams were given honourable mentions for their hard work and dedication to the project. These teams were Good Fortune with their Bliss Balls and YGIA with Startttle bars. Both teams impressed the judges. YGIA was also presented with a echnical Achievement Award from Mike Saltmarsh, the AVA’s technical consultant.

Runners up YGIA with Mike Saltmarsh on the left Astito Limbu, Ivy Muenda, Danijel, Alice Makahamadze, Xenios Herodotou, Yutthana Thapdit

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