Evolution of Food Waste Product Development student Competition

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RCA will hold the Evolution of Food Waste Product Development Competition on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 in Savannah, Georgia.

The purpose of the competition is to:

  • Provide a creative opportunity for students to network with food industry professionals;
  • Encourage students to develop a food product using waste byproducts commonly produced within the industry;
  • Challenge students to apply Culinology® concepts towards developing a sustainable food product that can be marketed at a large scale; and
  • Promote student talent and develop connections within the industry to provide a platform that will allow students to spotlight their food science and culinary skillset.

Competition Information

How do I enter the competition?

Download the competition manual to confirm the eligibility of all contestants. The Letter of Intent should include team name, school name, team members’ names (including alternate), indicating team leader, degree track, graduation date, and faculty sponsor name with contact information. 

 Submit your Proposal to the Research Chefs Association, attention Emily Nuzzo by January 26, 2018. 

How is the competition scored?

Top three student finalist teams present their fully developed food products in an open theatre during the Culinology® Expo. Each team has 10 minutes to present their consumer marketing plan, followed by a 10 minute question and answer session by a panel of expert judges.

Student Competition Process

Phase I

Students will develop a proposal for a new food product using ingredients considered food waste commonly found within the industry. Students will select ONE food waste item from the list of “Recommended Waste Ingredients” and develop a product using the ingredient as the featured ingredient. Teams will be required to create a product that will highlight the chosen ingredient and develop a novel commercialized product concept. Teams will submit a written proposal to the Research Chefs Association that will describe the product concept and waste ingredient.

Phase II

Following the proposal round (Phase I), up to three (3) finalists will be chosen and advance to the on-site competition at the 2018 RCA Conference. The finalists will travel to the conference to present their product to the judges with samples and provide a ten (10) minute presentation highlighting their product with a ten (10) minute question and answer session with the judges to provide feedback and explanation. 

Download the competition manual for more detail.

What do the winners receive?

Awards will be announced at the RCA Conference Awards Reception. The winning team will receive $1,000 and national recognition through coverage in RCA media.

Gain Some Inspiration! 

If you're looking for professional content to reference the potential of the Evolution of Food Waste competition, check out this recent TEDx talk by Daniel Kurzrock, the CEO and Cofounder of ReGrained.

Hear Daniel talk about how ReGrained started out as a college project and has scaled up into a mission-driven, trendy business model by turning trash into cash with shelf-stable consumer packaged goods. 

Congratulations to our 2017 Evolution of Food Waste Product Development Competition Winners 

Going with the Grain - Johnson & Wales University 

Team Members: 

  • Nicole Becker
  • Samuel F Burgess
  • Natasha Daniels
  • Victor Eng
  • Paula Figoni
  • Samantha Gannon
  • Ray Holloway
  • Jessica Pulling

About the Evolution of Food Waste Initiative

The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization estimates food production globally, but never eaten, would be enough to feed 2 billion people (FAO, 2016). Paradoxically, companies are paying millions of dollars to dispose literal metric tons of waste byproducts in a responsible manner. Some fresh produce never even leaves the farm and is driven directly to the landfill. Food waste is so prevalent large companies are creating incubators dedicated to solving the accumulating global issue and lucrative start-ups are being cultivated from waste byproducts commonly found throughout the product development process.

To meet changing market demands, the RCA Student Committee created the Evolution of Food Waste Initiative: a unique opportunity that challenges students entering the food industry, troubleshoots cost reduction solutions, and leads the charge in changing the way the world consumes “wasted” ingredients. One company’s trash can be another student’s opportunity. Ultimately, RCA students who succeed in this competition will prove themselves as perfect candidates for employers looking to hire new graduates with the culinary prowess to transform any ingredient into something delicious as well as the food science knowledge to formulate any gold standard product at a large scale.


United Nations. Food and Agriculture Organization. (2016). Food Loss and Food Waste. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/food-loss-and-food-waste/en/

Thank you to our 2017 and 2018 Evolution of Food Waste Product Development Competition Sponsor:

Griffith Foods 



Contact Emily Nuzzo at RCA Headquarters at enuzzo@culinology.org.