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?