Product Development and Food Technology: Food Literacy by Young People for Young People

Food literacy which means the theoretical and practical knowledge of the use of foodstuffs is decreasing, especially among young people. Therefore new approaches in consumer education are needed. Furthermore the food sector as one of the largest employers in Austria calls for interdisciplinary and technologically competent workforce.

YoungTechforFOOD aimed to provide insight into current research topics and to promote scientific understanding and food literacy by autonomous product developments of young people for young people. The 16- to 19-year-old pupils involved in the project (of the partner schools HLA Höhere Lehranstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung Graz-Eggenberg und HTL-BULME Graz-Gösting)) explored their daily diet and developing ideas for innovative food products.

Before the practical phase started, the young people drafted a research plan and worked out product specifications. These took into account technological aspects, the everyday life of pupils and criteria for a healthy, (time-) economic, ecologically and socially sustainable diet.

In the first stage of product development (2017/18), 4-5 prototypes were developed for youth-oriented products and they were tested for acceptance. In the second stage (2018/19), the students studied the developed products with regard to selected technological parameters and optimize the food product prototypes.

The YoungTECHforFOOD Manual supported further peer-to-peer YoungTECHforFOOD projects by providing guiding materials, methods and insight into learning processes and experiences. A formative evaluation assessed the suitability of the YoungTECHforFOOD concept for the development of youthful food products, scientific understanding and technological skills as well as improved food literacy.

This project has been completed.