One Vendor’s New Product Process
In “From ‘A-ha!’ to ‘Mmmmmm, Mmmmmm’” (May 2014), author Barry Sackin, SNS, explores the challenges that manufacturers serving the school segment must take to bring acceptable products to market. Below are specific steps identified by Renee Cool, product manager-foodservice, Jennie-O Turkey Store, a processor with a very strong presence in the school foodservice segment.
- Concept development. Product managers will look at an idea and then consider its feasibility: Can we/should we make the product? We must make sure there’s a market for it and that it will fill a need.
- Development phase. Food scientists and food technicians work on formulations to ensure the product meets standards and requirements.
- Sample creation. Work begins in a pilot plant. The R&D team will do “cuttings” (samples) and test these, making refinements as they go along. At this point, we do a full nutritional evaluation. We test for taste, texture and appearance. This process alone may take 4-6 months.
- Production plans. We need to consider which plant will be used for full-scale manufacture to ensure that the facility can support our projected demand.
- Customer validation. Even if the idea started with customer requests (such as our fully cooked turkey burger), we still need to try it out with customers and get their affirmation that it works.
- Line trials. We need to make sure our pilot R&D can be replicated on a large scale. The quality assurance team starts to get involved.
- Food safety. We do extensive food safety checks.
- Labeling. We need to get labels for packages, cases and CN documentation designed and approved.
- Document control. We need to write detailed specs (i.e., the recipe formulation) for accurate production.
- Money. Cost accounting staff will evaluate what it costs to produce the item, which leads to the determination of its price.
- Refinements. All aspects must be reevaluated and finalized so that all of them come together.
- Marketing. The team produces product launch materials and training resources.
- Product launch. At this point, the item is handed off to the sales team, so they can explain to current and potential customers that “not only are we launching products, we are launching solutions. Here’s a problem, and here’s the solution.”