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Cereal and food science class partners with specialty grain company

Students in the Food Product Development class presented their innovative, final projects May 3. They were tasked with developing a blue cornmeal-based food product, including production and marketing plans, much like a commercial product development team.

Jiajia Rao, assistant professor of cereal and food science, who teaches the spring semester course said, “This is a great opportunity for students to get involved in teamwork, creativity and scientific skills.” 

Rao previously worked in the food production industry and knows the importance of connecting students with industry representatives. So, she has approached companies since she began teaching the course in 2017 to assist and sponsor the product development activity for the course. 

Richland Innovative Food Crops located in Breckenridge, Minnesota, and sells soybeans and blue corn for processing into specialty food products. Rao had discussions with company leaders about the product development course and they offered to provide funds for the class project. 

The class teams and their products are Hanna Gross, Madison Gohl and Jonathan Roe, Blue Cranberry Breakfast Bars; Karlee Box, Kelsey Pladson, Trevor Austin and Tyler Bjork, KT Lemon Cream Cookies; and Ben Klesk, David Syverson, Christian Akers and Annie Baja, Purple Thunder Corn Flakes. 

Richland IFC Inc. president Rick Brandenburger; Dominique Schuler, ingredient sales and product manager; and Mihiri Mendis, product development and quality assurance manager, attended the presentations.

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