An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Food Product Development Firms

Did your career coach, co-packer, or consultant refer you to a food product developer? Are you curious about what a food product development firm can actually do for your business? This quick guide will explain exactly what it is that these developers do, and what you can expect while searching for the perfect firm to suit your needs.

The Food Product Development Process

A good food product development firm will tailor their process to help you achieve your goals – chances are you won’t have to use every service they are capable of providing. In fact, the first step in the process is to assess your goals. Your goals may involve creating a new marketable product, adjusting your current product, or scaling your current production methods. This may also involve brainstorming new recipes and ideas with the food scientists and culinary developers who make up the development team.

Once goals are established, the food product development team will take steps to develop and refine the concept depending on your processing, packaging, and distribution needs. Regulatory guidelines will help direct the developer’s progress. Some firms also conduct market research to gauge the potential demand for your recipe, whether in the consumer or business-to-business arena.

Your concept will then move to the testing and prototyping phase. Issues like cost and manufacturing restrictions will begin to become apparent. Several rounds of testing and refinement may be necessary.

Food product developers can then conduct shelf-life testing, stability testing, taste testing, and the testing of physical and biochemical properties of your developing product. This might take your product back into the testing and prototyping phase; attention to detail is the most important aspect of the development industry.

Regulatory compliance is also an important part of new product development and should be part of the process from beginning to end. Most firms also offer the option of creating your nutrition label to ensure it complies with local and federal regulations as well.

If needed, the food development team can also run tests that gauge customer acceptance of your new product or recipe. There are third-party firms that conduct this type of test exclusively but it’s always nice to cut costs by going with the same company for as much of the development process as possible.

Some firms may also assist with your packaging design, investor presentations, and product launch. They may be able to get you into trade shows that will further your success. Every food product development firm offers optional extras, but not all firms offer the same forms of pre- and post-launch support.

Every development firm is different. They all offer different levels of involvement, different resources, and different philosophies. You will conduct many, many interviews before landing upon the perfect match – but the result is well worth the effort. Are you excited about working with a food product development company that will put your new recipe or product on the map?

Food Consultants and Food Product Design – A True Match

Food consultants, food scientists and food technologists are facing huge demands from the growing food industries that have to cope with pressures of bringing out new food products in a more seasoned style meeting the best needs of consumers of the food industry. Consumers have various tastes and eating styles that should be nurtured and dealt with meticulously. The food product design structure undergoes immense changes according to the taste of the product developers and food processors in order to serve a wider public with the best taste in a variety of food.

Students and academicians in the food product design perspective have many books authored by leading writers in the food industry, to read and understand the latest trends in the food industry which would enable them to become good food consultants and solve many R&D strategies and find methods to optimize and accelerate new product developments from time to time. These books are available as eBooks which could be easily acquired online or if preferred they can also be bought as hard copies from leading bookstores.

A food product design book should provide ideas and describe the important approaches and the tools that food developers and designers should use to make the recipe faster, tastier and much cheaper. It should create high end ideas and systems to be adopted by food consultants and designers in creating new products. It should also provide the best ideas based on efficiency, quality and speed in making new products get recognition among customers.

The most important point for food product design workers to consider is the shelf stability of a particular recipe. They are meant to create items, taste them for quality and then wrap samples and keep it for different lengths of time to check its shelf life. The flavor should remain the same even as it ages, this is important.

The costs of ingredients that go into a special recipe are then calculated and the whole sale and retail price of a specific food product design that is to be made available in the market should be decided upon. A good food consultant would make the right analysis in this respect.

Packaging and labeling are also part of the responsibility when doing a food product design job. Packets meant for respective food products should be designed with great care and concern using the best equipment and technology. This is what would attract the attention of consumers at large. The labeling should have attractive and catchy information which include guidelines and the ingredients that are used in the product.

With these requirements in mind food consultants should achieve their targets in satisfying their clients who are in the competitive food industry. Food is not just eating; it has to undergo a lot of processes before it is served by the waiter to the customers or before it is placed on the shelf for sale in any food store. The various food items packed in attractive packets using the best food product design skills are what consumers look for while shopping for food.

Safety Requirements in the Food Production Industry

Anyone working with food uses shirt protection and other safety items to help contain the mess and prevent the contamination of food. Those working in food production plants have even more stringent rules. In addition to a disposable shirt and other protective clothing, employees of these plants often wear total body protection that is designed specifically for their jobs including items such as hearing protection and chain mail.

Disposable Shirt Protection And Protective Clothing

Wearing items such as disposable shirt protection and other protective garments has two important purposes in the food production industry. First, it prevents hair, lint, and any other things that may be on your clothes from getting into the food. Disposable shirt protection also keeps the food from getting onto your clothing. This prevents you from taking the food remnants home with you. They also help prevent remnants from one food accidentally falling onto surfaces outside of the work area.

Hair And Head Covering

Anytime you work with food that someone else will purchase or that will be consumed by someone else, you need to have your head and hair covered. At the very least, workers need to wear mesh or disposable paper-like hairnets. In food production plants, they may also have to wear protection such as hardhats that will keep them safe if some of the food would fall off upper conveyor belts.

Chainmail

In a meat or vegetable processing plant that requires the use of knives, workers are required to wear added safety equipment that helps prevents cuts and other injuries. Commonly referred to as chainmail, these are a metal mesh-like covering that goes over their body. It prevents the knife blade from making contact with the worker’s skin. In many cases, workers may also wear metal gloves over their regular gloves.

Gloves

Anytime you work with food, you should wear a disposable glove such as plastic or latex to prevent contaminating the food you are working with and spreading it to other edible items and preparation surfaces. In manufacturing plants, gloves are worn at all times and switched any time you move from one food item to another and several times throughout the day.

Shoes

The proper footwear is an important safety precaution in any job that involves food. In sensitive areas such as hospitals and manufacturing, workers may have to wear shoe covers or have a special pair of footwear that is used only in that area. The one constant is that the shoes cover your entire foot. This provides your feet with added protection if you should drop a knife or spill a hot liquid.

Hearing Protection

Food production plants use various pieces of industrial machinery to make the work easier and more efficient. Unfortunately, these machines also greatly increase the amount of noise within the building. This requires earplugs or earmuffs to protect your hearing.

The primary concern of any business in the food industry is the safety for the worker and for the customers consuming the products. Disposable shirt protection and other items are only part of achieving this goal. Proper education along with quality safety gear is the secret to ensuring everyone stays safe.

Half the Food Produced Globally Is – Wasted?

One year ago, a report was released by the United Nations Environment Program that over half of the food produced globally is lost, wasted or discarded as a result of inefficiency in the human-managed food chain. This is a staggering fact that is substantiated by data from countries all around the world. It seems the food crisis that we are currently facing, blamed largely on decreasing yields due to climate change, depleted soil, lack of adequate water, and so on, is more a crisis of management than production. In fact, there is strong evidence, according to UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, that the world could feed it’s entire population, right now, by simply becoming more efficient and reducing the horrific waste that is endemic to the food production industry.

Some figures:

• Up to 25% of all fresh fruits and vegetables in the US is lost between field and table.
• In Australia, food waste makes up half of that country’s landfill.
• In the United Kingdom 30% of all food purchased every year is not eaten.
• Losses in the field between planting and harvesting are around 40% of the potential harvest in developing countries due to pests and pathogens.
• In Africa, 30% of landed fish is lost through discards and spoilage.
• Approximately 30 million metric tons of fish are discarded at sea every year.
• India looses up to 50% of it’s fresh food because of inadequate storage and distribution.
• In South East Asia 37% of rice is lost between field and table. In China, the figure is up to 45%, in Vietnam, it’s estimated to be 80%!

Another factor that accentuates the waste factor in America and Great Britain is the draconian penalties on food suppliers for failing to deliver agreed upon quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year. To avoid these crippling penalties, farmers are required to produce a much larger crop than can actually be sold or processed as a form of insurance against poor weather or other factors that might reduce their yield. In some instances, up to 30% of a crop is left to rot. Another 30% of that crop never reaches the supermarket because it is ‘sub standard’ or substantially trimmed for packaging purposes. Of the final produce that reaches our supermarkets, up to 50% is then thrown away.

While it is impossible to calculate the wastage of food from restaurants and all other places where food is served, the final figures of how much food is consumed, compared to how much is produced, must be an astonishingly small percentage. This system of putting incredible pressure on our food producers only so that at least half of what is produced can be thrown away, is clearly unsustainable.

This same study indicates that up to 25% of the world’s current food production capacity may be lost due to “environmental breakdowns” by 2050. Already, cereal yields have stagnated worldwide and fish landings are steadily declining. As the world’s population presses towards 9.5 billion by the year 2050 the demand on the world’s limited resources will reach a breaking point. We cannot ‘produce’ our way out of the next crisis, we must ‘conserve’ our way out.

What can you do?

1. Plan more carefully the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables that your family will consume on a weekly basis and limit your purchases to that amount.
2. When food is on the verge of going bad, cook it and freeze it. This works well with excess veggies that can be made into a soup and frozen, or apples which can be made into applesauce and kept longer.

3. Encourage your family to take smaller portions and go back for more if still hungry rather than filling your plate and throwing half away.
4. Learn to be creative with leftovers. Most meals can be recycled easily the next day into another meal or added to a soup or packed for lunches.
5. Feed your pet table scraps. In most cases, your animal will be healthier and that last piece of something that is too small to save will not be wasted.
6. If you shop at a store with large packs of produce or meat, consider shopping with a friend so you can divide the packages and not have excess food in your frige.
7. At restaurants, bring a Tupperware to take home leftovers or opt to share a meal if the servings are particularly large, or simply eat an appetizer and soup or desert.
8. If you find you’ve made more than your family can eat of something, bring the leftovers in to your office to share. Maybe have a potluck Thursday when leftovers can be pooled for a fun meal.
9. Shop at your local farmers market to help small scale farmers and get your produce days after harvest instead of weeks at the supermarket.