Food Product Development

Designing a new food or product may be complex, but new ideas and options are necessary for any Chain Restaurant or brand to survive and thrive. Ms. Beck is a food expert witness who can not only assist with litigation but can also consult with you on food product development. The design and development of new food products for Chain Restaurants can include complex and disciplined processes that are very helpful to achieve the objective: new or modified restaurant menu items that meet the chain’s target consumers’ needs and are novel and/or appealing such that those products will lead to incremental restaurant sales and profits. Indeed, many brands rely on new or modified food products as their primary strategy to maintain and increase their traffic (customers ordering from their restaurant versus competitors’) and sales. Ms. Beck has led or been involved in hundreds of product development projects over the course of her career.

What is Food Product Development?

Food Product Development or Menu Development is the process of creating new or modified menu items from conception to the final product consumers see in a store or restaurant. Of course this does not always have to be the creation of completely new foods, but can also be “line extensions,” such as new flavors of existing menu items. Before a new food or flavor can be introduced into the market, it typically goes through many different steps. The food product development process includes:

1. Consumer Research/Marketing

The first step of the menu development process involves identifying and defining what consumers’ needs/desires may not be fully met with the brand’s current menu items. This inherently means that the brand’s managers know in detail their target consumer base, and those consumers’ needs and desires, e.g. lifestyle; changes emerging in their lifestyle; time of day when customers are interested in purchasing from a brand. This information is gathered through on-going market research. Next, hundreds of product concepts targeted toward those with unmet needs/desires are developed that meet the purchase price and profit constraints of the brand, are operationally feasible for the current back-of-the-house layouts and equipment, and will function easily from a packaging and presentation perspective. These menu item concepts are filtered through specific market research testing.

2. Develop the Product

To actually create the products identified as having excellent potential in the conceptualization process, above, the food scientists and chef(s) at the chain’s headquarters engage with one or more key, trusted suppliers (food processing companies) to develop prototypes. This may take only six to twelve months, or it may take several years. Unexpected issues generally arise, so there may be significant trial and error in the work to create the first prototypes.

3. Test Your Product

Once prototypes deemed operationally feasible have been created, multiple stages of testing begin. The new menu item is tested through market research, e.g. focus groups. Verification that the new menu item is, in fact, appealing to the chain’s target consumers must be done. Later, operational testing is critical to ensure that the product(s) can be distributed to stores and produced in the back-of-the-house without negatively impacting on the existing menu items and employees’ ability to prepare and “deliver” all products without decreasing speed-of-service. Feedback obtained from any of these tests is used to modify the new product, or discontinue testing. Finally, test marketing is done to ensure that entire markets, in one or more areas of the country, can operate efficiently and market the new product(s) as planned with this addition, all the way from distribution, preparation in-restaurant, to “delivery” to customers, meeting a unique consumer need/desire.

4. Product Launch

After testing indicates that the product(s) should be successful in the marketplace, it is launched by introducing it to consumers as a new menu item. Carefully developed marketing initiatives accompany the product introduction to communicate with potential customers. Product “tweaks” may need to be made even at this stage if indicated by restaurant owners, consumer feedback, or supply chain issues.

Do You Need A Food Expert Witness or Consultant?

While managing the brands for Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, and Procter & Gamble, Ms. Beck helped develop many major new food products. She helped oversee and lead food product quality strategy and execution, global menu management, promotional product strategy and execution, regional food product testing and approval, and the marketing and advertising of new and improved food products. She is also experienced in the development and execution of brand strategy, and profitable management of food brands.

Contact Us Today

Are you in need of a food expert witness or food product development consultant? If you want to learn more about expert witness and consulting services relating to Chain Restaurant menu development, contact Juelene Beck & Associates, L.L.C.

CONTACT JUELENE BECK BY EMAIL OR BY CALLING 239-789-3550 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT EXPERT WITNESS AND CONSULTING SERVICES RELATING TO CHAIN RESTAURANT OPERATIONS AND MANAGEMENT, AND FOOD SAFETY PRACTICES.

Contact Juelene for Case Studies