The Research and Development term is widely used in everyday life, but few people are aware of its real meaning and application within a company scope.
R&D defines all the activities which are carried out systematically in order to gain more knowledge to convey in new applications.
In other words, this is a corporate function whose purpose is to enhance and improve company know-how.
But what is the translation of “R&D” in the food business? What are the design and development steps in the foodstuff industry?
First of all, R&D can apply to a product or a process and it could imply something completely new, but also the optimization of an already existing food product/process.
An R&D project sprouts from a concept, which could be winning or not. First you should spot the concept, which could be born of a previous assumption, and then reference target, advantages and feasibility are to be identified.
If the food product is brand new, a survey is needed to understand if the concept has the potential to penetrate the market and to estimate which market section is actually ready to embrace it.
When survey is done, manual tests are carried out: they could come even before the original concept, and they will be analyzed and refined in a subsequent step by means of organoleptic tests.
Then production tests come to assess the workability and adjust possible flaws, which are followed by proper sensorial evaluations not only internal but also by trained or untrained panelists such as consumers. Comparative trials with the competition or products belonging to the same category could be performed as well.
Finally there is the naming step, aimed at finding the most suitable and appealing product name, and the graphic design.
At the same time, shelf-life studies are carried out to ascertain the best package and confirm the desired stock life, which are followed by the definition of the technical specifications to be given to future customers.
Projects have a cost, but they should not be expensive when they are well-informed and structured.
Since each step takes its own time, results are not to be seen shortly: only by launching the product and evaluating the results after 6/12 months one could tell whether the project has been successful.
On the other hand, an entrepreneur knows that every business comes with a risk, and if you don’t take a chance your company cannot stay on the market, let alone getting bigger or better.