ISU students' FruitSoylicious(R) beverage finishes second in national competition

AMES, Iowa -- Tony Haun admits that a fruit/soy beverage may not sound that tasty. But Haun -- a member of the Iowa State University Food Science & Human Nutrition Product Development Team that created FruitSoylicious® -- reports that, yes, most people who have sampled it have found it to be delicious.

In a taste test by 110 Iowa State subjects this past spring, 86 percent of panelists who don't usually consume soy products indicated that they would purchase the beverage. And 92 percent of the entire panel said they would purchase FruitSoylicious®.

More importantly, judges at the national Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Product Development Competition in Anaheim, Calif. liked it earlier this month -- enough that the Iowa State team finished second for FruitSoylicious®. What's more, two companies scouting potential new products at the competition have offered to produce the beverage.

"That is exciting to have companies come up to you and say, 'We'd like to produce the product,'" said Haun, a junior food science major originally from Dubuque. "One company talked to our advisor (Mark Love, associate professor of food science) extensively about that and what we have to do to make that happen.

"We knew we had a good product. We knew we had a refreshing product," he continued. "We found out that consumers considered it to be a refreshing product too."

In addition to Haun, ISU's team members included Megan Wiley (sophomore, Adel, Iowa), Zara Nazareth (grad student, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India), Yanjun Liu (grad student, Chengdu, Sichuan, People's Republic of China), Devin Dutilly (grad student, Glendale, Wis.), Candace Ilg (senior, DeWitt, Iowa), Janelle Brewer (senior, Des Moines, Iowa), Huey Shin (Rachel) Gan (senior, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia) and Charlwit Kulchaiyawat (grad student, Des Moines, Iowa).

Teams in the competition develop an idea for a new food and carry the concept through the production and marketing of a brand-new product, much like the process of a commercial product development team.

ISU team members worked several hours a week during the academic year on FruitSoylicious® -- a strawberry-flavored drink with 100 calories per serving, containing 10 percent fruit juice, 10 percent strawberries and no added sugar.

"After deciding on a beverage, we did a survey in some general education classes and determined what they would want in a beverage, with our target market being 17- to 25-year-old college students," Haun said. "They indicated that they would like to have a beverage that was low in cost, low in calories and nutritious. (The top three reasons were flavor, calorie content and cost.)

"We also asked what flavors they would like and they said 'vanilla, chocolate and strawberry,'" he said. "The group decided to go with strawberry and came up with the pink color for our beverage."

Haun says the group wanted to incorporate soy because of its nutritional value, promoting Iowa's agriculture in the process.

"We're known for corn, we're known for hogs and we're known for soybeans," Haun said.

Six teams were chosen as finalists for the competition. Teams were required to submit a final written report on the product to judges by the end of May. They then had to create a poster board, make a 10-minute oral presentation before the judges and then answer questions for 10 minutes at the IFT national meeting.

The ISU team was bested by North Carolina State University and its creation, "Shivers," an instant smoothie beverage.

The Iowa State product development team finished fourth in the IFT national competition in 2007 for "French Sticks," an alternative to french fries.