Online workshop with Parmalat

FIPDes students from Cohort 9 at UNINA had an online workshop with Parmalat on October 26th

Over the past few weeks, us FIPDes students studying at UNINA, Italy had an eye-opening 3-day workshop and concept creation experience with Parmalat. Parmalat is a household name for dairy and food products in many countries including South Africa, my home country, but I had never known the origins of this disruptively innovative company and it took being in Italy, where Parmalat’s story began in 1961, to have my lightbulb moment (“latte” from Parma… Parmalat!)

Parmalat delved into the need to innovate as food companies rooted in tradition are struggling to stay on the playing field and have a latte to worry about… Taking a planet- and consumer-centric approach is vital in an evolving food industry setting. We sadly couldn’t all meet in person but Teams allowed for some serious teamwork. This online workshop was carried out with their Parma-based R&D team and it was inspiring to hear of their open approach to innovation where their R&D process is executed by their internal team and supported by a skilled and diverse external ecosystem. We were guided through their successful NPD process from lab to launch.


Parmalat put forward two important problems that food industries worldwide are facing today regarding a more sustainable future and they dairied us to identify opportunities and brainstorm solutions with the potential to tackle the challenges of (1) dairy industry sustainability and (2) waste-less food and beverage industries in the context of increasing global food demand. We, UNINA girls, formed two teams, put our thinking caps on and, over the following two sessions, developed our concepts using a wide-angle view and these were our proposals:

Our goal was to provide a healthy, tasty and accessible meat alternative to consumers and to propose an innovative and eco-friendly product concept aimed at recycling by-products. Whey is an abundant and protein-rich by-product of the cheese-making process and, although a lot is reused in beloved food products like ricotta, various other applications and a small part goes to animal feed. After some “doodling,” polling and using a design thinking approach, Melanz’Anna was born – a nutritious vegetarian patty containing fresh Mediterranean ingredients like aubergine, sundried tomato and basil and surplus whey allowing dairy industries and consumers to contribute to the respect of our planet. Whey to go!

Sadly, 45% of fruits and vegetables are wasted or lost. Food companies worldwide are developing products to upcycle waste, by-products and reduce transport and shelf space – think shape-shifting pasta and home-grown mushroom kits – so our FIPDes team wasted no time in developing their innovative food product concept from food waste! They brainstormed, used design thinking and developed Nutri Chewables , which are chewable tablets made using wasted fruits and vegetable peels and skins from local food companies, which contain immune-boosting essential nutrients such as antioxidants and polyphenols to benefit the general population.

Parmalat’s R&D Team were moo-ved by our progressive ideas and we enjoyed this unique opportunity to work with an international food company and develop our sustainably delicious concepts and product mock-ups.

Lara Auzet, South Africa, Cohort 9

- Updated June 2021 -