The challenge of NPD
By Alan Campbell - 23 August 2016
Competition in the global food and drink industry is intense. Successful businesses need to innovate and introduce new products that are appealing, safe and produced at a cost that the consumer is willing to pay - if they are to stay ahead of the competition and meet consumers’ increasingly discerning and exacting requirements. New product development (NPD) requires significant investment. Seventy percent of those surveyed in the Food Manufacture State of the UK Food and Drink Manufacturing Sector 2016 said that their company planned to invest more in NPD this year.
Success requires skills
With large sums at stake it's vital that companies do all they can to ensure success. But developing a new product or reformulating an existing product can be complex. The wrong thermal process, a problem with an ingredient or microbiological issues can impact on a product’s safety and quality. NPD requires specialist knowledge and expertise across a wide range of areas, including ingredients, safety assurance, thermal process validation, legislation and packaging.
If a company needs to expand its facilities and build a new factory to produce the new product, there are many additional factors that must be taken into consideration, including the factory’s size, its hygienic design, operating layout and work flows, and the equipment specification. It’s therefore unsurprising that some food and drink companies have limited access to the range of technical facilities and consultancy skills needed.
Avoiding costly mistakes
The problems of NPD can be technically challenging. A manufacturer had a problem with a fermented product - getting the right product viscosity during the storage-life required:
- management of the microbiological fermentation to get the right levels of acidity
- addition of the right amounts of the right types of thickening agents
- controlling temperatures for the required gelling
Solving the problem required investigation and understanding of the product’s microbiology, ingredient formulation and interaction, and process
control – all to get the desired texture that the product’s quality relied upon.
Enlisting the right expertise not only helps to ensure a smooth transition from concept to product, it can also save money through reduced waste and energy use. This is essential with slender profit margins - the norm for food and beverage manufacturers. And of course, in all areas of the food and drink industry, unforeseen problems can arise from time to time. Identifying the problem quickly and dealing with it effectively will reduce downtime and save money.
Help is at hand
Whether you need consultancy or help troubleshooting a problem or just a chat about options, give us a call. With our cross-disciplinary team at your disposal, you can rest assured that whatever the challenge or problem – we are on hand to visit you and provide on-site technical support.