Amy Mayer (@AgAmyinAmes) reports for Harvest Public Media. In this piece, she writes about an Iowa State University food science capstone class, in which students “must develop a product, scale production up to industry standards for mass production, test their product on the shelf and with consumers and design packaging.”
Before a product makes it to a grocery store shelf, a team works in a lab to develop a recipe formula. New products must be tailored to consumer preferences: dairy-free, whole grain and gluten-free are all popular now. In addition, consumers seem to want healthier products that contain fruits and vegetables. The products that are developed must deliver what the label claims. In addition, production must be able to be scaled up, design concepts tested, etc. And it all has to make financial sense, too.
Again, what the label can lay claim to is key to successful product development.
Virginia Tech professor Courtney Thomas, who studies the politics around food labeling, said companies, just like these students, will often develop something new in response to consumer interest or demand. But jumping on a trend is not necessarily quick or easy.
“The tweaking that has to go on in this product formulation as you try to capture parts of the market is something that I don’t think most people think about when they think about what they’re buying,” Thomas said, “and when they look at those labels.”
At the end of this course, which new foods earned top scores? A gluten-free, frozen cauliflower pizza crust, for one.
A fascinating read. Bonus? A video dispatch