Load N Reload leads way to market

Hungry for something different? Future alternatives might include ZippaTea whey- and tea-based smoothie, or YoVe vegetable-flavored yogurt or Cheezzlers colorful fruit-flavored, chocolate-filled string cheese.

These are just three of the 17 novel foods created over the last decade by the WSU Food Product Development Team and successfully entered in national product development contests. One is on the market, and WSU is working on ways to commercialize more.

“The products that our students have developed are marketable,” said Stephanie Clark, associate professor of food science, who established and advises the student Food Product Development Team, an extracurricular club.

But the only product currently manufactured and distributed is Load N Reload, a before-and-after fitness beverage system created in 2005. It was one of six product finalists that year in the prestigious national competition sponsored by the Institute of Food Technologists. 

Team member Lance Schwarzkopf received his master’s degree in food science in 2006, then created his own company to market Load N Reload (ONLINE @ www.loadnreload.com). Using a network of student representatives, he has managed to get the sport beverage stocked in stores around the Inland Northwest.

 “It’s exciting for all of us to walk into a grocery store and see a product that our students created,” Clark said. “That builds a sense of pride for all of us.

“We would like to see more of our student products in the marketplace,” she added.

To that end, Clark is working with Brian Kraft, commercialization manager at the WSU Research Foundation, to create an advisory board of industry representatives. It is hoped the board will provide expertise and connections to help students with critical marketing decisions.

In addition to product development, Kraft said students have done much of the important preparatory marketing work.

“For the national competitions, the students include a production plan and extensive market research,” he said. “It is really impressive.”

Kraft said he has complete product assessments for a half-dozen products developed through the WSU Food Product Development Team. With anticipated help from the advisory board beginning this fall, he hopes to sell these products to established companies.

“If we can engage our alumni and friends in industry as advisers in product development, we believe this collaboration will both connect students to future employers and result in the commercial success of other student products,” Kraft said.

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