Many companies in the food industry during the last forty years have based their business strategy on the continuous introduction of new products. The processing companies introduce a wide range of new ingredients; the manufacturing companies launch thousands (maybe millions!) of new consumer products; supermarkets present a continuous change of many thousands of products; the food service companies continuously change their menus; and even the primary producers change the raw materials. This product development represents a central company activity, involving top management, research and development, production, marketing and financial departments, as well as the teams and individuals involved in the day-to-day product development project.
This small book is for new people entering the company as an introduction to product development, and also for others in the company who would benefit from thinking anew about the company's product development projects.
Product development is a process strategically implemented to bring innovation into the company. Although the Product Development Process has a structure which remains the same, the activities within the structure change with the company, the personnel, the product, the processing, the marketing and the market. The method of product development varies, as it depends on the knowledge, the resources and the organisation of the company, as well as the company philosophy, business strategy and attitude to risk-taking. Every company needs to continuously study their Product Development Process, relate it to those of other companies and in the literature, and analyse the comparative success and failure rate they are achieving. The Product Development Process is not rigid and bureaucratic, but fluid and loosely structured so that changes can be made.
The Product Development Process is based on decision-making and there is a need for recognition of the decisions that have to be made - both minor and major. The major decisions of top management are to start a project, to continue a project, to increase the investment in the project and finally to pass it into the operating part of the company and launch the product. The decisions of the product development management are to select the project activities and their related techniques, to set the times and resources for the activities and to accept the outcomes of these activities. But they have to be aware from the beginning of the decisions that top management have to make at the end of each stage, and of the information on which these decisions must be made. They choose the activities to give outcomes with the necessary information, and the techniques to give efficient activities and accurate outcomes to the activities.
Therefore there is a need first to determine the decisions to be made and then to plan the activities to give the outcomes for these decisions within the resources and the environment of the company. This interrelationship between the desired decisions and the product development project is important to determine at the beginning of the project and is stressed in this book because it leads to efficient, creative and knowledgeable product development.
Today the activities, outcomes and decisions in product development are not only technical research, but need to include the total technology of the company, that is distribution, marketing, production, raw materials, quality assurance, and also the consumers' needs and wants and the societal environment. The company recognises that in many instances they cannot have the knowledge and the resources to cover every aspect of the total technology, and therefore they decide the risk level that they can tolerate. These risk decisions define the necessary outcomes required from each stage. The decisions of acceptable risk need to be made with knowledge of the formal Product Development Process and the various decisions, outcomes and activities involved throughout it.
There are some companies who decide they will take the risk of poor market knowledge and decide to do no market research; others the risk of poor processing knowledge and decide to do no pilot or semi-production scale trials; others the risk of poor financial knowledge and decide to do no pre-launch financial analysis. These are decisions that companies make every day, and are decisions which cause their different forms of the Product Development Process.
Systematic product development has been used in the USA for over 70 years. But companies do not always use the published Product Development Processes because they regard them as rigid, costly, slow, not innovative and too complex for small companies.
In the Product Development Process in this book there are only four stages: product strategy development, product design and process development, product commercialisation, product launch and evaluation; between the stages there are critical points where top management evaluate the project and give go/no-go decisions. Within each of these major stages there are interlocking activities which lead to outcomes and to decisions; these are the basis for the major management decisions between stages. Management identifies the decisions to be made and the outcomes needed for these decisions; the project team recognises these decisions and outcomes, then plans the activities and finally selects the techniques to be used. The project team organises and controls the activities so that the required outcomes are achieved at the right time and top management can make the correct decisions. Managing the Product Development Process is an essential responsibility of top management.
Philosophy of the book
Product development is a multi-disciplinary activity in the food company and this book introduces the managers of product development in the food company to a systematic Process which integrates the various research areas, and which identifies the activities, outcomes and decisions to be made as the project progresses. The book also aims to incorporate some of the ideas from other industries such as product concept engineering and product design, so that they can be considered by management in the food industry.
The four major themes in this book are:
Product Development Process: stages, decisions, outcomes;
product development project: aims, objectives, constraints, activities, techniques;
integration of research areas: product, processing, consumer, market;
integration of product design and process development: systematic design, quantitative product qualities, product testing.
Using the book
The book has been developed as an interactive text so that it can be used both in the food industry as a teaching method for people starting to work in product development and also used as a textbook for an introductory course in product development for undergraduate students. Product development is not a theoretical study and it is important that the book is used alongside a product development project so that the knowledge in the book is put into practice.
Throughout the text are Think Breaks encouraging the reader to consider the practical applications of the material, both in their own company and in the food industry in general. If the reader does not know the answer to the problem in the Think Break, maybe a little research would increase the reader's knowledge of product development in the food industry. By studying other areas of the food industry, innovative thought can often be encouraged.
There is a Project Break at the end of each chapter, and these follow the Product Development Process through its various stages, inviting the reader to solve typical problems that occur in product development projects. The reader can either use a project from their own company, or from the projects at the end of each chapter.
There are also Examples in the text, mostly from undergraduate and postgraduate student projects at Massey University. There is a Case Study in each chapter with published comments on food product development so that the reader can think of the wider implications.
There are five references for further reading at the end of each chapter, specific to the material in the chapter. There is also a list of product development textbooks at the end of Chapter 8 - both general textbooks and those specific to the food industry. The references included in the print version have not been updated but a few new references have been added.
We wish to acknowledge all of those in industry and in the universities with whom we have worked over the years and who have stimulated discussion and debate, extending and enriching product development experience. All projects mentioned in the text and not otherwise attributed come from student projects at Massey University. Mary Earle would like especially to thank all those who taught with her and also took part in the workshops for the food industry, particularly Alan Anderson , Stuart Clark, Geoff Page, Carol Pound, Brian Wilkinson and also Joan Brookes, who supported all this work for many years. Finally we thank Chris Newey for all the work he did in changing the book to an attractive HTML form.
The industrial objective of Creating New Foods: The Product Developer's Guide is to control the development of new products so that it is faster, more reliable and less costly, and develops more product successes than failures. It is hoped that this book will be a basis for such a worthwhile outcome.
CHAPTER 1: THE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT IN THE COMPANY
Back to the top