Looking to introduce a new or improved food product to the market? Before it can hit store shelves, there's a lot of legwork that needs to be done, from the original concept to product launch and marketing - and everything that happens in between.
Simply put, food product development is the process of creating, manufacturing, and commercializing a new food product. And with some 15,000 new products hitting store shelves every year, the food market is one of the most competitive. In this article, we'll take a closer look at food product development - from the key stages to the key ingredients, like almonds, and more.
The Key Stages in Food Product Development
1. Ideation and Concept Development
The first step in any type of new product development is the conceptual stage. Any new product must first begin with an idea. But beyond this idea, there are a number of other things that must happen in this initial task. For instance, it's important to conduct market research with the product development team to ensure that there's a target consumer for the new food concept. Market research may consist of a number of strategies, including price analysis, competitive products analysis, focus group consumer testing and feedback, R&D, and more.
For these reasons, the ideation and concept development stage is arguably the most important step in developing food products. If it's determined that there isn't a target market or target audience for the conceived product, food companies may have to rethink the concept and overall strategy. Of course, the goal of any new product development project is to do more than just create a new food product but create a new food product that is profitable.
2. Recipe Development
Following the initial conceptual phase comes the development phase. In the food product development cycle, this is the recipe development, or formulation, stage. There are a number of factors that this stage will help bring clarity to, including ingredient sourcing and cost, shelf life, environmental impact, and the potential for mass commercialization of the product based on the aforementioned factors.
This stage tends to involve creating various versions of the product concept to really zero in on what formulation is best received by consumer test groups. Some of the key players involved in the recipe development phase that help make these decisions include buyers, chefs, and research and development specialists.
A final note on this step is the importance of using high-quality ingredients. The end goal with any new food product is for it to be great tasting, traceable, and sustainable. Quality ingredients don't just help accomplish this goal but also play a role in overall food safety, shelf life, and more. Many food manufacturers will look to cut costs by using lesser-quality ingredients, but doing so can have a detrimental effect on the success of the overall product. Harris Woolf Almonds is a key partner in this step, offering a variety of almond ingredient solutions. We’ll discuss more on almonds in food product development below.
The next phase is the food processing stage, which essentially involves scaling up manufacturing operations for commercialization purposes once the final product is selected from the various prototypes created in recipe formulation. In the prior phase, small-batch manufacturing was required to create and test different recipes to discover the right product to go to market. This step involves scaling up from small-batch to large-batch manufacturing, all while maintaining production efficiency and optimizing quality control.
Aside from scaling manufacturing production, this step also involves selecting the packaging, labeling, and distribution of the product. These are all factors that should not be overlooked. The packaging does more than just serve as protection for the product from the end of the production line to the end consumer, it can also serve as a marketing tool and deliver key information to the consumer.
4. Launch and Marketing
Finally, there's the launch of the new food product and any marketing campaigns that help bring awareness to it. Remember, the goal of any new food product isn't just to create a new great-tasting product for customers, but to create one that sells. That's where a robust marketing strategy can help pay dividends. By now, you should have performed a competitive analysis and targeted the ideal consumer. Now it's time to communicate the value proposition that your new product offers. Consider marketing the product on the channels where your target consumer is most active. From conventional TV, radio, and print ads to newer mediums like digital and social media advertising to more immersive promotions like free samples at pop-up stores or in grocery store environments, it's important to show off your product where your target consumer is.
Product development doesn't end with your initial marketing campaign. Team members should be continuously monitoring the product, its sales, and the marketing strategy - and making adjustments as necessary. They should also be assessing any feedback about the product to help influence any future strategy. The work doesn't end when a new product hits store shelves and customer grocery carts. Continuous improvement is also important and could lead to future food product development.
Key Ingredients in Food Development
It's worth spending a bit more time discussing the importance of ingredients in food development, something that largely plays out during the aforementioned "Recipe Development" step of the food product process. Let's start with the key factors that help make a quality ingredient: taste, texture, and nutritional value.
Noting these three factors, there are a variety of nutrients that play a crucial role in food production. Here's an overview of some of the most important ones and why they're so significant to any recipe:
- Fats and oils: These offer nutritional value and help give the body energy to support cell function. It's important to note that the choice of healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids), is crucial. These fats are found in foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and fatty fish.
- Proteins: Foods that are high in protein help build lean muscle, maintain a healthy weight level, and accelerate recovery times after exercise or injury.
- Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates help deliver glucose to the body, which helps produce energy for physical activity and other bodily functions.
- Flavors and seasonings: Taste is one of the most important factors when sourcing ingredients, and flavors and seasonings certainly help impact this. But they can also enhance the aroma and color of the food and even offer health benefits.
- Sweeteners: Sweeteners often act as a substitute for sugars, and help add flavor to foods and drinks without impacting the overall health value or quality of the product.
Why Almonds are Becoming a Key Ingredient in the Food Industry
When you think about the important factors — taste, nutrition, and texture — and the nutrients that build quality products, almonds stand out as a valuable ingredient solution that checks all the boxes.
The popularity of almonds is undeniable. According to Washington Post, the demand of almonds has grown by over 220 percent since 2005 - and there are many reasons why this plant-based food continues its ascent. For instance:
- Almonds offer nutritional value: They're high in antioxidants, Vitamin E, protein, and fiber. We could write an entirely separate post on the health benefits of these nuts. Some of the health benefits associated with the regular consumption of almonds include better cell health, a lower risk of heart disease and some cancers, assistance with blood sugar and blood pressure control, help controlling cholesterol, controlling hunger, and assisting with any weight loss goals. Noting all of this, it's easy to see why they've become such a popular dietary supplement.
- Almonds taste great: No matter which form they take on, almonds taste clean, mild, and natural while offering a subtle, enjoyable texture addition. Whether you prefer a milder-tasting almond and prefer to eat them raw or prefer the salty and smoky flavor of roasted almonds, the taste of these nuts is consistently great across the board. And there are plenty of varieties of almonds to choose from.
- Almonds are versatile: Another key benefit of almonds is the incredible versatility that this nut has. It can be incorporated into food products without overpowering its flavor or composition, consumed as a standalone snack, and incorporated into milk, butter, oil, and flour. Essentially, almonds can add value to just about any food or drink product.
Formulating High-Quality Products with Harris Woolf Almonds
As we've stated throughout this piece, high-quality ingredients are a must if you really want to make a splash with any new food product. Almonds can be a valuable addition to a variety of manufacturers, and with Harris Woolf Almonds, you can rely on sustainable, clean, and quality almond ingredients from almond flour to butter, oil, natural almonds, in shell, and more.
We pride ourselves on partnering with our customers to meet their unique specifications, food quality requirements, and traceability goals. Contact us today to learn more about our industry-leading almond products and how they can help your firm create the next great food product.