- Understand how food products are developed, from concept through to retail sale.
- Understand ways food products are enhanced for nutritional or taste reasons.
- Describe how food products are processed and why.
- Appreciate and explain how foods contribute to health, regulations, and necessary statements for sale
You will progress through a series of steps to apply what you are learning – the course culminates in a project on developing a new food product. For this project, you will be encouraged to consider aspects of food technology, production and management.
Nine lessons as follows:
- Overview -Scope and Nature of Food Processing Industry
- Nutrient Content of Food
- Managing Chemical Processing
- Thermal Processing, Pasteurisation and Cooking
- Managing Health Claims and Other Statements
- Developing New Food Products (including Marketing)
- Packaging, Labelling and Storage
- Legal, Policy and Management
- Developing a New Product - Problem Based Learning (PBL) Project
Duration - 100 hours
WHY DO WE PROCESS FOOD?
The foods that most people eat will commonly be quite different to what the farmer originally too from their farmland. This course explores how that raw food product is processed from the point of harvest, to the point at which it is eaten.
Food is processed for a variety of reasons:
- To exploit a scale of economy that allows the feeding of larger numbers of people for lower costs.
- To extend life (cold storage, preserving)
- To make it more transportable (eg. protecting from bruising - packing into boxes)
- To make it more presentable (sorting, grading, packaging)
- To have a more desirable product
- Reduce Health Risks
- Meet Legal Requirements
Food will naturally deteriorate in value and quality if it is not handled or treated properly.
Recognising and understanding this fact is important to everyone who deals with food: the farmer and food processor to those who distribute and sell food, and those who prepare food for consumption to anyone who eats it.
LEARN TO UNDERSTAND THE STAGES TO DEVELOP FOOD PRODUCTS
All good product development processes happen in stages. The number of stages varies according to the type of product, and product-specific needs. Many food companies use a five-stage development model, incorporating sub stages and checks as necessary. Names for these stages may vary, but the general concept is the same all over the world.
Five stages of food product development
There are five stages in developing a new food product. After the initial concept and feasability study, each stage requires a significant investment of time, money, and personnel.
Using the information collected from consumer analysis, a company can step through the process of developing a new food product.
Food science and technology is a highly competitive industry. The first stage of new product development, Decide, is where you decide on a concept and assess its feasibility as a product. In this stage, you:
- Brainstorm ideas
- Think about potential markets and why a concept might appeal to them
- Consider if existing technology to create the product exists
- Consider existing competition in the space
- Think about future trends
New food products must be developed to fill a need or perceived need. Many products fail because there is no need for them, and so consumers will not follow through to purchase. This is where we draw on our existing consumer research to help us work out consumer needs. One way of assessing feasibility and setting a starting point is to analyse competitors’ products in a lab.
Perceived need is a food trend or fashion, such as incorporating so-called superfoods or energy components into an existing product. According to Google trends data, interest in the acai berry took off in September 2008 and peaked in January 2009. Over this period, many companies rushed to meet the trend by incorporating acai into drinks, yoghurt, and other health and wellness-related food products. Although interest has since waned, Google trends data shows that interest in acai was rising as of April 2017; this could mean revamped marketing of current acai products, or concept development of a new crop of products.
Using this as an example, in the Decide stage of developing a new acai product, we would consider existing markets and competition in the space. For instance, we know that dried acai berries and acai berry powder exist, to boost other meal types. Our analysis reveals acai drinks and teas are popular.
Purchasing these drinks, we take them into the lab and break them down into their component parts.
How do they work? What makes them popular?
If we wanted to create a new acai drink, we’d consider this market. What could we in
troduce that other brands don’t have? Perhaps another kind of super food boost? Using more trend analysis, we could find other super food products that fit into a tea or other beverage format and brainstorm ideas.
In this stage of development, we engage in market research to focus our idea and work out why it is unique. Research can include:
- Further trend analysis
- Deeper identification of consumer need or perceived need
- Testing markets with surveys and focus groups
- Competitive market analysis
After we’ve completed our market research and worked out our target demographic, it’s time refine our product. This means determining the key elements of our product, such as:
- Mouth feel
- Vitamin fortification
- Caffeine content
It’s also where we start developing our production process. This is a team effort: developing a new food product requires a food technologist, some speciality chemists like a food rheologist (consistency and liquid flow specialist), process engineers, and more. Together, the team develops another set of prototypes and takes these out to consumers for testing.
In this stage, we put all the work we’ve done together into a final prototype, using the processes we’ve worked out in previous stages. This process starts by gathering together all our information: we look at the early bench marking we did, in analysing our competition, and the sensory analysis data we have regarding our earlier prototypes.
This allows us to:
- assess how the ingredients are interacting
- tweak any negative interactions
- balance our technical capabilities with our marketing goals
- think about storage and cargo stacking
- consider shelf-life, stability, and expiration dates
The technical aspects of this stage are very important.
Most of the production team’s work is done now. All that’s left is for them to finalise the details of formula, packaging, and how distribution will work. The rest is up to marketing, sales, and design.