Students get a taste of working for Ocean Spray

Courtesy: Ocean Spray. From Left: Melanie Mayhew ’18 and Erin Nese ’18.

Jun 07, 2016

Two DelVal food science students, Erin Nese ’18, of Roselle Park, New Jersey, and Melanie Mayhew ’18, of Bridgeton New Jersey,  took second place in Ocean Spray’s Student Product Development Competition during the spring 2016 semester. Ocean Spray was founded in 1930 and produces cranberry products that are sold by retailers all over the world. Student participants were challenged with coming up with a new cranberry product for consumers.

The DelVal team spent months preparing, taking their concept from an idea to a formal pitch that was ready to present to the company’s senior leadership. 

“What I enjoyed most about being a part of Ocean Spray's Student Product Development Competition was that I developed real-world experience,” said Nese. “I was able to communicate with an international company and learn what a day in the life of a food scientist is really like! This experience will help me with my career as, someday, I aspire to work in Product Development or Research and Development!”

The company’s human resources, research and development and marketing teams collaborated to create the student contest to give tomorrow’s food scientists a chance to take on real-world challenges. The students also help get the company thinking about new products, ideas and solutions.

Students from nearly 50 different food science programs were invited to compete. Of the invited food science programs, 15 submitted abstracts.

Teams used cranberry concentrate to create a new product for “Healthy Strivers,” a group of consumers who are concerned about health and wellness.

Judges invited the top three teams: Delaware Valley University, the University of Florida and University of Nebraska-Lincoln to its headquarters to pitch their ideas. The teams also had a chance to tour the company’s labs, the plant and a cranberry bog.

“Being able to brainstorm a product idea and actually execute it was more work than Melanie and I could have imagined,” said Nese. “Creating a product is more than just thinking of a food product and making it in a kitchen. You need to think about practicality when it comes to manufacturing, processing, shipping and more.”

She said bringing a prototype to the competition involved a lot of strategy, as well as trial and error.

The team presented a cranberry frozen yogurt bar coated in a cranberry hard shell coating.

Cranberry frozen bars in ice

Courtesy: Erin Nese. The DelVal team presented a frozen cranberry bar (shown above). 

“Imagine the classic Klondike bar in a cranberry flavor,” said Nese. “Our frozen yogurt bars were designed to have the same great taste of ice cream with a variety of health benefits. They are only 100 calories and include ingredients such as yogurt, Truvia, and cranberry concentrate, which can all contribute to overall health and wellness.”

They balanced the bitterness of cranberries with Truvia in both the frozen yogurt and the hard shell coating.

“We came up with this idea merely by brainstorming,” said Nese. “Frozen yogurt bars just happened to be the one product we could picture in stores with Ocean Spray branded across the front!”

To learn more about the contest, please visit: