Managing innovation is a necessary skill for senior management of all food companies producing new raw materials, new ingredients or new consumer products. Company growth and even survival depends on the introduction of successful new products into old and new markets. The dividing line between product success and failure depends on many factors, but the most important are new product qualities, skills and resources of the company, market and marketing proficiency, and an organised product development process.
There is a need to understand consumers' behaviour and attitudes and to be able to design a product to meet the users' needs. But it is also necessary to have the technological knowledge and the skills, and the organisational ability to bring a product to a successful commercial conclusion in the marketplace. This book studies some of these key issues in product development and outlines the methods of managing them.
The book started on a day in 1956 when Mary Earle joined the product development team at Unilever Limited, Colworth House, Sharnbrook, Bed- fordshire. Jack Savage, the leader of this team, was a pioneer of product development in the food industry. It was his understanding of product development as a coordination of technology and marketing, always aimed at the final consumer, that laid the basis for Mary's work in product development during the next 40 years. She tried to put these ideas into practice in the food industry in Britain and the meat industry in New Zealand, and quickly realised that there was a real need for education in product development for all people entering the food industry particularly technologists, engineers and marketers.
In 1965, at Massey University, New Zealand, she introduced courses in product development and food marketing in the Bachelor of Technology degree in food technology. These courses combined theory and projects, so that the students not only could learn basic techniques in product development but also the philosophy and the practical application in industry. Gradually product development (PD) was developed as an academic discipline and Bachelor and Masterate degree programmes in product development were introduced for all industries at Massey University. Allan Anderson was involved in much of this development over the years. Dick Earle's expertise is in process development, particularly in the New Zealand meat industry, and he developed the combination of product design and process development in a new venture producing pharmaceutical industrial products.
At the same time, particularly in the last 20 years, there has been a great deal of research in other industries on product development, and today it is recognised as a particular industrial research discipline. The book has been built on this research and also the research at Massey University and with the food industries in New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada and Australia.
We need to thank the hundreds of undergraduate students for their work in their product development projects with industrial companies, the postgraduate students in their research on the activities and techniques in product development, and in particular the people in the companies who collaborated in these projects. Examples from some of these projects are used in the chapters. The staff at Massey University involved in product development in the Food Technology Department, Food Technology Research Centre and the Department of Consumer Technology, built up the multidisciplinary, consumer directed, systematic PD Process used throughout the book.
Part I starts by looking at the different categories of new food products. It then identifies past reasons for product success and product failure, and asks the reader to identify some of the specific reasons for product success and product failure in their company. This is to stimulate thoughts on PD in particular companies and to lay the basis for studying the core elements in PD and relating these to the problems of PD management. It ends by identifying specific aspects of product development in the food industry.
Part II in four chapters studies the core elements of product development:
1. Developing an innovation strategy
2. PD process(es)
3. Knowledge base for product development
4. Consumer in product development.
Product development at both the programme and the project levels needs to be based on the business strategy. It is the responsibility of top management and they need to set the strategies for the product development programme for the present and future years, and also the aims for the individual projects. Top management needs to ensure that there are systematic PD Processes for the different levels of innovation and types of products. Having set the strategy and the PD process, they need to ensure that there is the necessary product, processing, distribution and marketing knowledge in the company, and also the ability to create new knowledge in design, development and commercialisation.
Finally there needs to be an understanding and consideration of the final consumer - their needs, wants, behaviour and attitudes - as well as the other customers in the food system between the producer and the consumer. Part II studies these core areas, so that the reader develops a basic understanding of product development.
Part III studies PD in general and then in the food system. Managing product development in the food industry varies with the types of markets (industrial, food service and consumer) and with the place of the company in the food system (primary producer, food processor, food manufacturer, retailer). Top management needs to recognise these variations and also identify their level of risk and the company's resources in skills and knowledge. From this, they can build an organisation for product development and also identify the decisions that they have to make in the programme building and during the individual projects. They can then specify for the middle management the critical points in the PD Process and the knowledge that must be available for their decisions at the critical points. From this, the middle management, called product development manager, product manager, R&D manager, can identify the aims, activities and outcomes for the individual stages in projects, and also the coordinated plan for the product development programme. The project leader can identify the techniques to be used in the project, the resources needed and the time schedule. For successful product development management, these three layers of management need to be coordinated and aiming for the same outcomes from the product launch. Four case studies illustrate management at different stages of the food system, including fresh products, industrial products and manufactured consumer products. The book ends with a chapter on evaluating and improving product development. Product development management must include the collection of knowledge from the project, analysis of this knowledge and setting improvements for future projects. Product development is continuously changing and its management needs to change; without change, not only the products but also the whole system become archaic and lost in the past.
This book is intended for people entering or in product development management, at all levels from the project leader to top management. Throughout the book, readers are asked to apply the knowledge in the chapter to their company, so that they can develop their own philosophy and methods for product development. This is not a book on techniques of product development; it is a book to raise the awareness of different aspects of product development and to apply the new or revived knowledge in the practical situation of managing product development in a food company.
Back to the top