Salt of The Earth, Ltd., has teamed up with Tel Hai College Institute, Upper Galilee (Israel), to bring innovation to the table. This partnership focuses on salt- and sodium-reduction innovation and connects the academy and its students to the food industry.
The academic initiative was devised by Dr. Ofir Benjamin, PhD, lecturer and researcher at Tel Hai College, supported by Roee Weiser, VP business development of Sugat- Salt of The Earth. Two out of 15 groups were selected to participate in this program and work with Salt of the Earth. The two groups were instructed to create innovative products with a focus on sodium-reduction and flavor-enhancement. The students were guided by Rakefet Rosenblatt, R&D technologist and application manager for Salt of The Earth.
“We are excited to collaborate with the Salt of The Earth team,” says Benjamin. “One of the goals of the collaboration is to establish a dialogue between academia and the food industry.”
“This collaboration is a great opportunity for us to engage with students who have the desire and creativity to come up with great ideas,” notes Weiser. “The goal is to accelerate product innovation and highlight new challenges in producing better-for-you foods.”
Rakefet, who holds a BA in Food Science from Tel Hai, adds, “This journey with the students is very special for me; we presented our company, product line, and marketing and technological capabilities to stimulate the students and connect them with what the industry is really about. The students pitched their ideas for products they wanted to develop with the ingredients presented, and a suitable product was chosen by us and the academic lecturers.”
Seaweed Salt project
The goal of the first group’s project was to design a salt that is enhanced with seaweed to enrich the total mineral content. The main challenge was to neutralize the strong iodine flavor in seaweed and minimize the impact on color. The students developed salt with two different species of seaweed that underwent a process of oil treatment and ethanol extraction. The new seaweed salt demonstrates the students’ capabilities to develop innovative concepts that answer food trends and consumer needs.
Chickpea chips project
The goal of the second group’s project was to develop a savory vegan snack based on chickpeas. The main challenge was to attain a crunchy texture while meeting typical flavor expectations in the snack and eliminating any off flavors from the chickpeas.
The students came up with a great chip made from chickpea flour and other starches. Mediterranean Umami Bold, the clean-label, plant-based solution for flavor enhancement and sodium reduction, was incorporated into the application to reduce the salt and enhance the desired salty flavor. The project was so successful the group won a bronze medal at the Tel Hai College conference competition.
“One of biggest challenges was developing a product that was not only edible and functional, but met sensory and technical goals set in the specifications set at the beginning of the project,” notes Benjamin.
Tel Hai College is part of the new foodTech ecosystem in the Galilee. However, the partnership between Tel Hai College and Salt of The Earth extends beyond student projects. “We’re connecting with Tel Hai in multiple ways, such as testing our ingredients at their analytical lab,” explains Rosenblatt.
The food laboratory’s infrastructure provides advanced services to the industry and will grow significantly with the expected establishment of an international food institute created in collaboration with the MIGAL Research Institute.