Food Formulation is a critical step in any product development, however, it is a complex process and formulators face a great amount of challenges when developing a recipe.
#1 Food Formulation Development – Cost control
Cost is an important factor in a product development, from the price of raw materials to the manufacturing costs. It is important to develop a product which follows certain requirements, especially in term of pricing. Often, the marketing department will establish a certain price that consumers are willing to pay for a product, which, in turn, will determine the maximum manufacturing cost of a product. It can be challenging to calculate direct material costs if there is no proper process in place to have all information readily available. On the other hand, it is also a problem when there are too many different processes and software implemented, especially as these systems are usually from different providers and hosted on different platforms. So it becomes laborious and slow to get the required information.
Either way, retrieving information is, then, time-consuming and complex. However, since food and beverage manufacturers operate on thin margins, controlling costs is essential.
#2 Food Formulation Development – Allergens management
Formulators need to be careful when creating new recipes or products. There are two main parts about allergens management. Firstly, they need to follow specific requirements which define the allergens prohibited, for instance if the product needs to be dairy-free or nut-free. On the other hand, if there is no specific requirement, it is still important to accurately determine and declare the allergens present in the final product.
It is crucial for food and beverage manufacturers to implement processes to control and manage all types of allergens in their products. Formulators also need to have access to an accurate database with all raw materials information; this will help them determine which ingredients to use in a recipe in order to avoid certain allergens.
What’s the solution? Having the right information at the right time via a single source of information is one of the main solution. Information is key to ensure that a product follows the requirements set by other departments and that all food allergens are properly identified. This source of information should be shared with all departments, organized following set guidelines, and always up-to-date. Manufacturers can take additional steps towards a better management of allergens, such as enforcing suppliers’ relationships. For instance, information received and send from/to suppliers should follow the same structure to guarantee that all required information has been completed (e.g.: certifications, declaration of the presence of allergens in ingredients, etc.). A supplier portal will help you facilitate these processes. It will easily improve relationships with your suppliers and enforce their accountability, therefore, improving collaboration management.
#3 Food Formulation Development – Requirements from other departments
Food and beverage formulation becomes even more complicated when formulators have to take into consideration several requirements. Those requirements can vary from claims that the marketing team wants to use on the packaging, list of allergens that are specifically prohibited for a product, to all the country-specific regulations a product must follow. It is clear that the R&D team can then be easily overwhelmed by all these requirements and have a hard time accurately and efficiently following them.
What’s the solution? Here again, sharing information is key. Several departments are involved during a product development, and streamlining communication is important. Using templates to create a marketing brief will help the R&D quickly identify the requirements. In addition, if all briefs are structured in the same way, it will ensure that all required information has been completed and shared.
During formulation, it is also important for the R&D team to have access to regulations that will apply to the product. Ensuring a product compliance should start right when formulators are working on a recipe. Indeed, they should have access to all applicable regulations from the first step of a product development. To do so, it is essential to create a common single source of information and improve communication between quality, compliance and R&D teams.
Formulators can also become proactive and identify, – based on nutritional information and following regulations in force, – claims that could be used by the marketing department (e.g.: non-fat, reduced in sugar, etc.).
Without the proper tools, it can be complicated and lengthy to implement these solutions. However, Lascom Solutions, a Product Lifecycle Management software (PLM) editor, can support you during your entire product development, from marketing brief, through suppliers’ relationship, and formulation to end of life.
# You May Have The Best Recipe in the World, But Have You Really Perfected Your Food Product?
Ever wondered what went into producing that can of mushroom soup or that pack of delicious macaroni and cheese? These are all the results of food formulation.
This is a multi-step process that takes a food idea from conception to the grocery aisle. While simple in theory, it involves a lot of innovation, technique, and trial and error.
The process is the same whether you call it food formulation, product formulation, or food product design.
Let’s take a quick look at what goes into this fascinating process
#1 What is the Food Formulation Process?
It’s important to follow all the necessary steps when creating new food product designs, to ensure it’s good and it can be produced on a large scale.
It Starts with an Idea
It’s a grim fact that new food products launched into the market have an 80 percent failure rate. This statistic is why most food brands make it a point to iron out their idea before going further. The marketing team helms this process and bases it on data from market research and competitor analysis.
The next step is to do an initial test recipe and see if it creates a good product. This is so that they can see what the final product will look and taste like. Often, this is done in small batches, so it’s cheap and quick to make any revisions.
#2 Sensory Tests
The prototype is then sent for sensory evaluation. A team of talented tasters does this. The professionals will judge every aspect of the food product from taste and texture to the overall presentation. They will then notify the test kitchen team of any changes. If the product is up to par, then it will undergo a pilot batch
The pilot batch is usually a step up in size from the test batch and is used to see how well the recipe will perform on a slightly larger scale. Mistakes are spotted and corrected at this point.
Product specifications are also monitored to ensure consistency. This is needed to minimize any errors before committing to a commercial batch. Further sensory tests may be done until everyone is happy with the final product.
#3 Consumer Test
One final step before a full product launch is to do consumer testing. Here, random people from the product’s target market judge the product. They might be asked to describe it freely, or against a set number of criteria. Once the feedback is in, the company will decide to either push through with the product or make necessary changes.
Consumer testing is a necessary step in the food formulation process because it’s an actual test of what the market thinks of the product. It eliminates any bias that might arise from internal testing and gives a good gauge of success.
With a successful prototype, the company will now go into production scale. Marketing for the product will also increase, and distribution channels will be tapped. All of this is in preparation for the last stage of product formulation – launching it.
The company may also opt to protect their food recipe at this point (Interested in protecting your food recipe?
But the process doesn’t stop there. Once launched, the performance of the product will be continually monitored. Things will be revised as needed. The truth is, food formulation is less of a linear process and more of a life cycle.