By: Emily Wolter
Sometimes, as a budding product developer, I realize that most consumers don’t have much of an idea of all that goes into the food products they see on the shelf – the years of development, the careful attention to detail, the deep level of study. However, as consumers desire to know more about the food they put into their bodies, they want more of these details and we are happy to share with them!
My dad recently sent me an article from the Wall Street Journal that a gentleman in his office thought I might find interesting (yea, this type of thing happens all of the time…comes with the territory of proclaiming yourself an OFG!). The article was all about the importance of texture in consumer perception of food products.
I know my fellow lab mate would agree wholeheartedly with this article, as her entire Masters project has focused on texture from both a sensory and instrumental perspective. The article points out that certain demographics are “crunchers”, which are the target consumers for some of the recent products to hit the market, like thicker tortilla chips and yogurt with crunchy add-ins. Others are “chewers”, reaching for soft and chewy cookies when they need a snack. And it’s not just your gender and age that dictate your preference, but where you live might come into play, as well.
Check out the article. It’s an interesting, yet short read. Actually, it makes me wonder how much research and careful details I take for granted when it comes to things besides food, such as my car or the lotion I just put on.
What part of the product development process have you experienced that you think consumers might not be aware of? My graduate research introduced me for the first time to the complicated world of sensory science… as related to pickles! Yep, even the pickles hidden beneath all of the toppings of your hamburger have years of research invested in them.
Photo credit: http://www.sugardishme.com/2012/12/17/flourless-mocha-hazelnut-crunch-cookies/
Like you said, people don’t realize how much goes in to a new product. One of the most challenging things when creating a new product is scaling it up from the R&D lab to the processing line. Working in QC, the production day of a brand new product was always extremely hectic because we were still working out the kinks. It always required more time and attention to make sure everything ran smoothly and the product looked and tasted exactly how the customer wanted it to.
R & D is a delicate process, each step proceed with care and attention. What I think is really sad is not the detail part, it is the disappearing of new food products that might be an excellent product for the consumer. It can go missing in the process of research and development if no one is able to defend the product in terms of the profit margin or marketing strategy.