What Is Food Formulation?
You May Have The Best Recipe in the World, But Have You Really Perfected Your Food Product?
Ever wondered what went into producing that can of mushroom soup or that pack of delicious macaroni and cheese? These are all the results of food formulation.
This is a multi-step process that takes a food idea from conception to the grocery aisle. While simple in theory, it involves a lot of innovation, technique, and trial and error.
The process is the same whether you call it food formulation, product formulation, or food product design.
Let’s take a quick look at what goes into this fascinating process
What is the Food Formulation Process?
It’s important to follow all the necessary steps when creating new food product designs, to ensure it’s good and it can be produced on a large scale.
It Starts with an Idea
It’s a grim fact that new food products launched into the market have an 80 percent failure rate. This statistic is why most food brands make it a point to iron out their idea before going further. The marketing team helms this process and bases it on data from market research and competitor analysis.
The next step is to do an initial test recipe and see if it creates a good product. This is so that they can see what the final product will look and taste like. Often, this is done in small batches, so it’s cheap and quick to make any revisions.
The prototype is then sent for sensory evaluation. A team of talented tasters does this. The professionals will judge every aspect of the food product from taste and texture to the overall presentation. They will then notify the test kitchen team of any changes. If the product is up to par, then it will undergo a pilot batch
The pilot batch is usually a step up in size from the test batch and is used to see how well the recipe will perform on a slightly larger scale. Mistakes are spotted and corrected at this point.
Product specifications are also monitored to ensure consistency. This is needed to minimize any errors before committing to a commercial batch. Further sensory tests may be done until everyone is happy with the final product.
One final step before a full product launch is to do consumer testing. Here, random people from the product’s target market judge the product. They might be asked to describe it freely, or against a set number of criteria. Once the feedback is in, the company will decide to either push through with the product or make necessary changes.
Consumer testing is a necessary step in the food formulation process because it’s an actual test of what the market thinks of the product. It eliminates any bias that might arise from internal testing and gives a good gauge of success.
With a successful prototype, the company will now go into production scale. Marketing for the product will also increase, and distribution channels will be tapped. All of this is in preparation for the last stage of product formulation – launching it.
The company may also opt to protect their food recipe at this point (Interested in protecting your food recipe? Read an interesting article here.)
But the process doesn’t stop there. Once launched, the performance of the product will be continually monitored. Things will be revised as needed. The truth is, food formulation is less of a linear process and more of a life cycle.