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Hot and healthy winning recipe in school canteens

Media release 21 May 2008

Hot and healthy winning recipe in school canteens

Two years after winning two major prizes at the Massey University Food Awards, a healthier alternative to the classic Kiwi meat pie is taking school canteens by storm – and even making its way into the canteens of Australian Schools.

Hot Bites Murphies, from the Tasman Bay Food Group Limited, were developed specifically to entice school children to switch from meat pies high in saturated fat and sodium to something more nutritious and less fattening.

To do that, it also had to taste good. Marina Hirst Tristram, marketing manager of Tasman Bay, says it took the company six months to develop a product with all the right ingredients.

Tasman Bay hit upon a mince “pie” with a crisp bread casing and a swirling potato and cheese topping. With a particularly tasty filling, it also negates children’s desire to add salt- and sugar-laden tomato sauce.

Judges at the 2006 awards were impressed, giving the product not only the enterprise award, but also the New Zealand Heart Foundation Tick Programme Nutritional Award. “The project was well investigated … with manufacturers looking at what influences student’s food choices and the perceived barriers of eating healthy food,” they said. “The resulting product not only answers the health issues required of the study, but also the commercial reality of providing a cost-effective sales option for retailers and wholesalers alike.”

Hirst Tristram says winning the nutrition award, in particular, provided a real boost to the company’s efforts in marketing to school canteens.

“Winning the award provided an excellent talking point and opener for our distributors to help convince schools to try the product,” she says. “It certainly got our distributors excited and helped them believe in the product. We always thought the product was great but it makes it even bigger to have industry recognition.”

But Hot Bites Murphies have received more than just industry recognition – since winning the awards, sales have increased dramatically, and they are now even making a difference to the eating habits of Australian school children.

“Before we developed Hot Bites Murphies our Hot Bites Mince Pies were the biggest sellers out of all our products,” says Hirst Tristram. “We are now pleased to say that Hot Bites Murphies sell 29% more than our Hot Bites Mince Pies. Year-on-year growth for Hot Bites Murphies is 34% and we are looking forward to building on this with different variants.”

New Zealand school children can now buy Chicken Hot Bites Murphies, and the company this month sent its first container of the product to schools in New South Wales.

Now in their 22nd year, the biennial Massey University Food Awards showcase innovation and ingenuity and recognise market leaders in the food production and manufacturing industry.

They are open to products developed for the New Zealand market or for export. All products must be manufactured in New Zealand with a manufacturing base and/or New Zealand address. Complete judging criteria may be obtained from the awards website, along with details on the twenty categories available for entry.

Entry forms for the 2008 Massey University Food Awards are now available on the awards website http://foodawards.massey.ac.nz Entries close June 6 2008.

ENDS

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