Bakers Journal

Features Business and Operations
Tricks of the Trade: December 2012


November 15, 2012
By Mario Fortin


Topics

Tips to ensure success in the research and development of products

Tips to ensure success in the research and development of products

I have written this column for the past two years and it has been a great pleasure to share some of my knowledge and technical experience on different topics. However, because I am involved more and more at an international level, this article will be my last.

In my experience, I have determined a process for the research and development of products:

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  • Choose a well-defined idea or market opportunity.
  • Look at the targeted clientele and the competition in the targeted market.
  • Develop the prototype according to the selected criteria.
  • Choose ingredients according to the name of the products.
  • Test recipes on a small scale in a laboratory.
  • Conduct a presentation of the first samples for analysis.
  • Correct the required characteristics after the analysis.
  • Adjust the recipe to meet the customer’s needs.
  • Evaluate the required equipment for production.
  • Adjust as necessary after first plant trial.
  • Determine the cost and selling price.
  • Conduct a sensory evaluation/tasting using a panel.
  • Evaluate the shelf life.
  • Compile the list of ingredients for marketing.
  • Find an attractive claim for the product.
  • Present the product to marketing for the choice of packaging.
  • Define the process parameters for the production setup.
  • Support the quality control for the specifications of the product.
  • Conduct a sales presentation to the food chains for listing.

These steps are essential for ensuring the product’s success. I have too often seen people create the packaging before finishing the development. A list of ingredients should be made when the product development is complete.

For people working in research and development in the baking industry (artisan or industrial), the most important thing to remember is to always work by weight (using a scale), never by measurement, because you will never be able to convert a small recipe into a larger quantity for production.

The smaller the batch you make, the more precise your scaling must be. Using cups and spoons isn’t an effective way to measure, as results will vary by person. For any ingredient amount under 50 grams, you must use a precise scale. Scaling three grams of something that calls for two grams is adding 50 per cent more. A difference of one gram on something that calls for 100 kilograms is minute, but a different of one gram on something that calls for two grams has a big effect. The scale becomes your best friend in research and development, so don’t be afraid to use it accordingly.

Take note of everything that you do. Write down your formula, scaling, temperatures, mixing time, dough weight, proofing, baking, cooling and packaging notes. Many people repeat the same test because they do not have any record. Keeping notes is more efficient.

Always use the same ingredients that you will use during production. The formulation of baking powder for home use is different from the one used in the industry. Do not use ingredients such as flour, milk powder or baking powder from the grocery store, because they are not the same as those you will get from your distributor. An all-purpose flour from the grocery store does not get the same treatment as a 20-kilogram bag from the distributor. I have seen many cases where research and development people use a great formula to start their development but use the wrong flour. They try to change everything else to meet their requirements and it does not work. All-purpose flour is not necessarily good for making all kinds of products. The right flour makes the difference in the texture. Flour is the major ingredient in many recipes, so it is important to use the correct variety. Specification of products is the key to standardizing any formula. When you try to replace one ingredient with another, you have to be sure that the replacement will meet the same application. Also, be sure that you know the altitude level of your city in order to use the right quantity of chemical leavening.

Changing the type of flour may not have much of an effect on dough worked by hand, but in industrial applications it may cause problems on the production line. In many cases the mixing time should be adjusted depending on the type of mixer or the dough size for the mixer capacity.

If you do not have experience with the functionality of ingredients, you must change one ingredient at a time to see the effect on the dough.

Using ingredients such as wheat gluten, starch, gums and emulsifiers requires adjusting the absorption to control the texture.

In a laboratory, you have to develop your recipes by determining what the production parameters in the plant will be in order to respect the timing of the production line. It is easy to make an excellent product but difficult to make it very good day after day. Consistency is the key to success.

The right colour of a product will influence the shelf life. Sweet products get darker faster, so never judge by the colour, but by the time. Timing is an indication of whether or not the oven temperature is right. Convection oven temperature must be 30 C (50 F) less than conventional oven temperature.

Good luck with your product development and do not hesitate to ask for help.


Mario Fortin is an international bakery consultant and owner of FORMA-LAB, consulting services to bakers and suppliers. If you need technical information, send your question to info@forma-lab.com.


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