Food scientists know all about the magic that goes into making safe, nutritious, delicious, and sustainable foods. From the chemical interactions that create roux to the creative tension that produces new products — food science is instrumental to successful innovation.
Between new product conception and large-scale production, food science balances creativity, culinary vision and consumer insights with operational and logistical considerations. This synergy is key to consistently meeting consumer expectations of products — surrounding flavor, texture, accessibility, and more — by ensuring that concepts are not only innovative and delicious but quantifiable and scalable as well.
Development: Translating the Vision to Prototypes
The food science and culinary teams at Griffith work hand-in-hand to turn ideas into reality by partnering together. As the culinarians envision innovative products in a test kitchen, the food science team transforms these into commercial products through creative thinking and ingenuity.
Automation and analytical tools can only get you so far in the world of food R&D — people are the best tools for translating consumer and sensory science insights into a new product. Our Griffith teams collaborate to determine a flavor’s defining characteristics and identify what ingredients, in what form, will achieve it.
Snack seasonings are a prime example of how the food science and culinary teams work together to take a gold standard dish and translate it to a new format or product. Since consumers already have perceptions and expectations of what certain flavors taste like, the Griffith teams:
- Use consumer insights, sensory science, and their expertise to define the details of a flavor profile. A characteristic like “tomato” needs to be specified as to whether it should taste sautéed, fire-roasted, sun-dried, or fresh.
- Choose how and in what form ingredients will get used. The flavors of spices and herbs can vary depending on if they are left in their whole form, ground into a specific consistency, or dried.
- Determine what (if anything) is needed to bind or hold certain products together and how those structural ingredients could affect the flavor profile.
Sourcing & Labeling: Aligning Sustainability, Performance, and Consumer Insights
Griffith Foods has the opportunity to support consumer wellbeing and sustainability by incorporating functional ingredients into our products. Using artificial dyes, flavorings, or preservatives may get a product to its desired shelf-life, appearance, mouthfeel, or flavor, but today’s consumers are wary of these ingredients.
Consumers are trending towards “clean” products — ones with simple, recognizable names and can be procured through practices that don’t harm the earth. The food science group identifies where ingredients must come from and whether they are realistically accessible and affordable for commercial production. There’s an art to balancing cost, consumer demand, and procurement.
Our food science team is constantly working with partners in purchasing and manufacturing roles to answer questions like:
- Is there a natural ingredient or byproduct that could replace synthetic or artificial ingredients that make products “clean” but still shelf-stable?
- Is the desired ingredient accessible at a large scale, or will sourcing it disrupt the ecosystem in which it’s grown and be detrimental to the environment?
Scaling: From a Test Kitchen to a Commercial Kitchen
The food science team is responsible for the intricacies behind how to commercialize and produce new products on a large scale. This physical concept development typically begins in a lab and is characterized by an iterative cycle of testing, evaluating, and refining.
Food scientists will first work with analytical chemists to diagnose the concept’s basic components (such as salt, fat, protein, sugar) and refine a more data-driven vision of the product profile. At the bench, the goal is to replicate how companies and customers will produce and use the product, while pilot plants and production facilities ensure these qualities can be maintained. Testing with client-specific machinery and sensory or consumer panels are other ways to make sure the product retains its intended form in full production. Thorough testing ensures that the product can meet safety, quality, and timeliness standards while ultimately satisfying consumers’ expectations.
Food Science is Crucial to Innovation
While chefs are fueled by their imaginations and developing gold standard concepts, food scientists are driven to understand food composition and create the innovative processes that elevate those concepts from a test kitchen to a commercial scale. Checks and balances and cross-functional collaboration among Griffith’s teams help maintain both creativity and practicality throughout the innovation cycle — so we can deliver quality, consumer-centric solutions.