Griffith Challenge: Innovation with heart of palm fiber

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: January 31st, 2022

How to create a nutritious, innovative, and delicious product incorporating heart of palm fiber as a raw material? That was the question on the minds of Alicia Vega (’21, Costa Rica) and her classmates who joined the Griffith Challenge, a contest promoted by Griffith Foods in conjunction with EARTH University’s Development Unit, as part of the Food Processing course.

Some of the participants.

Griffith Foods specializes in making high-quality food products while focusing on innovation and developing a more sustainable world. That is why, it has become a strategic partner for EARTH and a promoter of education and new professional experiences to our students.

The challenge took place during the third quarter of 2021, and its main objectives were:

  1. Create a dairy product based on the students’ creativity. Dairy products were chosen as the category since EARTH has experience generating these products.
  2. Take advantage of the heart of palm fiber as the fiber is commonly wasted in the food industry despite its excellent nutritional properties. The main innovation challenge was to use an uncommon raw material to create a dairy product.
  1. Consider one of Griffith Foods’ core values: create a functional product that meets a real need. Students had the opportunity to choose any population niche to measure and work on those needs.
  2. Apply design thinking focused on the consumer and problem solving.

Alicia and her team.


“As agronomy students, this challenge was very inspiring, as it opened us to new knowledge. I think this is something that regularly happens at EARTH, thanks to partners like Griffith – they allow us to grow in various areas,” Alicia says. “I think it’s important that as agronomists, we learn more about the food industry, about making food that can be replicated using all resources without generating waste. It was very satisfying to know that we were contributing and to see how EARTH prepares us for much more than just the agricultural world.”

Together with her teammates, Roly Williams Choque Quisbert (Bolivia), Martín Gutiérrez Maldonado (Colombia), and Elvis Fabricio Carranza Vera (Ecuador), Alicia won second place in the contest by creating dulce de leche with three different percentages of hearts of palm fiber.

The expected tasting.

Overall, seven teams prepared products like yogurt, powdered drinks, and atole. Griffith Foods provided continuous support to each group, so did Professor Aracelly Cordero and staff of the Guácimo Campus Food Processing Laboratory. Whenever a student had doubts about any objectives, meetings were held to clarify every aspect. In addition, Griffith Foods provided the heart of palm fiber.

One of the presentations.

“Sometimes, as professionals in the food industry, we find it hard to get out of the box we put ourselves in, but EARTH students are extremely creative and open, coming up with unique and effective ideas. We wanted to give them the opportunity to participate in a challenge like this so they could put their academic knowledge into practice in a real project,” says Professor Aracelly Cordero.

Marcela Vargas, Director of Development for Latin America, stresses the importance of generating strategic alliances with the private sector and facilitating spaces to exchange sustainable development solutions to our communities. Thanks to this, the Class of 2021 had the opportunity to grow professionally, acquire new knowledge, and be part of a crucial innovation process for today’s world.

We look forward to the next Griffith Challenge!