New food products

In order to develop a new food product, many people and agencies are involved; the food industry, consumers, and governmental regulatory agencies are intertwined. The most important factor is the consumer because they dictate the direction to the food industry by changing eating habits and food preferences. In addition, the consumer dictates their preference based on sensory acceptance and health considerations.

Historical Perspective
In the following time line, the past, present, and future of food choices is contemplated. It demonstrates the diversity that exists in products and packaging. No endorsement of the selected foods is intended; other examples could be used if you wish to use this information as a lead-in to an activity or discussion about the development of new food products.

Industry Response
The food scientist at a food company is challenged to develop a product that satisfies the consumers’ wants and needs and which also passes government and industry standards and inspection. Perhaps the most important aspect of product development is that the new product must show through consumer testing to a food company’s management that it will make the company money.

Today, the demands the consumer places on the food industry include the following.

As the food industry responds to consumer demands, new technologies are developed to meet the food industry’s needs. Examples of new technologies developed are included in the chart below.

Food industry innovations
Area of inovation What/Why
Production improved handling, processing, and distributing of raw material, such as refrigerated rail cars
Nutrition formulated inexpensive protein and vitamin supplements to prevent malnutrition or supplement the diets of the poor.

Food products
in the military

in outer space

developed foods with high caloric density, compactness, and long term storage capabilities

developed foods that are compact and that can be prepared under weightless conditions

Food processing fabricated soybean protein products to look and taste like meat.
Food storage increased storage life of fruits, vegetables, adn meat products when stored under stmosphere controlled conditions where the air is low in oxygen.
Equipment developed mechanical harvesting machinery to lessen labor shortage problems and to reduce damage or raw product.
Food preservation developed uniform quick freezing technology for perishable products using liquid nitrogen or cryogenic liquid; once thawed, the product's structure remains the same as when frozen
Food safety prevented food illness with food preservation techniques, such as freezing and aseptic canning
Food quality developed two methods to tenderize beef: inject proteolytic enzymes into animals before slaughter, and apply enzyme-salt mixtures to the surface of meat cuts
Technology designed computer-controlled equipment for automatic bakeries, factories, etc.
Food standards set standards for food quality
initiated ingredient labeling

For a printer-friendly version of this chart, click on the icon to download.
Note: Must have Acrobat Reader.


Stages of a New Food Product Development
Looking at the stages of new product development within a food company provides an opportunity to show the different types of careers that are part of a food company. It is an interdisciplinary effort to develop new food products within industry; many departments are involved. Although the main emphasis of new product development is research and development (R&D), other departments or individuals on the team include:

How do all these departments work together? The following 10 stages show how the process of new product development unfolds.

Stage 1
Commitment to a New Food Product Development Program

  1. The company clearly defines its objectives.
  2. The direction of a specific new product is determined by management’s assessment of the company’s internal resources and external product trends.
  3. Commitment assures;

Stage 2
Draft Plan(s) to Fulfill Company Objectives for New Product Development

  1. Responsibilities are delegated based on the objectives for a specific division within a company and/or individuals.
  2. Everyone is informed of their role in the achievement of the plan and company objectives.

Stage 3
Generate New Product(s) or Product Use Concept/Ideas

  1. Ideas for new products can be solicited within the company or external to the company. The new product may require use of a new technical innovation or a new ingredient. Other sources for ideas include:

Stage 4
Screen, Test, and Prioritize Concepts

  1. Concepts with the greatest overall potential are identified, based on sales potential, profitability, and feasibility.
  2. The process begins with a consumer evaluation.
  3. The concepts receiving the top consumer rating are screened internally, within the company. Research and development, marketing, financial, and legal groups score each concept against their own criteria.
  4. The surviving concepts (usually 20 to 30) are again consumer evaluated, but this time for price sensitivity, product positioning, physical attributes, serving sizes, etc.
  5. If a strong concept does not emerge, a new generation of ideas is usually conducted.

Stage 5
Translate Concept into Prototype

  1. After the internal/external evaluation, those concepts with the highest potential that do not require development of new technology are assigned to the new product development group. Those requiring new technology go into a long-term development schedule (3 to 5 years).
  2. At this point, concepts should be defined with specific product attributes (such as form, flavors, colors, shelf life requirements, packaging, etc.) and communicated to the product developer.
  3. Creating a prototype of the concept progresses according to the following sequence.

Stage 6
Refine Prototype through Consumer Sensory Tests

  1. Expose product to a larger sample of consumers; more in line with the product’s user population.
  2. Rate product under controlled conditions in a central location.
  3. Select flavor versions of the product usually emerge.

Stage 7
Scale-up Pilot Plant to Commercial Product

  1. The new product, in its commercially produced final form, is capable of being reproduced consistently at routine line speeds and under typical factory stress.
  2. Processing problems and deviations in product quality are identified and corrected.

Stage 8
Conduct In-Home Use Test

  1. Consumer judges product and package performance in an uncontrolled environment.

Stage 9
Market Simulation Test

  1. Provide information on the initial trial, repeat purchases, sales volume, profitability, and ratings of flavor versions.
  2. Expose shoppers to the new product commercials and those of other products, and then release into the store to do normal shopping.
  3. If market goals are achieved, the product progresses to a larger test market.

Stage 10
Test Market and National Distribution

  1. By gathering more accurate information, this test reduces the risk of an expensive national introduction failure.
  2. If target standards (sales and repeat purchases) are attained, the product progresses to national introduction.
  3. The new product receives continued research and development support to stay current and competitive.

Back to top


© Copyright (2002) Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, 47907. All Rights Reserved.