A US dairy lobby embeds a Food Technologist in the Taco Bell taco shell innovation team to finally perfect and launch a cheese filled taco shell. Why was it driven by lobbyists? Read on...Read More
Change is the only constant in the Australian Food Industry. Customers expect more data to drive their decisions, and consumers are demanding greater access as well.
Perhaps it’s time your organisation realised that Hamilton Grant holds the data your customers and consumers are seeking, and can be leveraged to be more than just a useful Research & Development tool.
Radar Insight has authored a white paper detailing innovative ways to leverage the Hamilton Grant software. These observations were uncovered during a deployment as Hamilton Grant System Administrator with one of Australia's largest Food and Beverage manufacturers. You can access the complete Hamilton Grant White Paper (PDF) by clicking any of the images below.
For 25 years Hamilton Grant has been the most recognisable name in Recipe Development and Product Data Management software. Many product developers in Australia’s largest food and beverage manufacturers rely on Hamilton Grant to retain the Business As Usual (BAU) product data. This includes, but by no means limited to:
maintaining current recipe formulations and Australian % Content labelling
producing Finished Good specifications
controlling Raw Material documentation, and
preparing Nutritional Information Panels and compliant product artwork.
All of this BAU work happens while labelling laws change, new intolerances and allergens require tracking and NPD timelines are reduced.
Product developers constantly find themselves at the mercy of this ongoing change and work harder and harder just to keep up.
And just keeping up is no cakewalk, it requires constant attention to detail, planning and time consuming precision. Product Developers need systems that will enable them to work smarter to meet project deadlines, streamline the creation and sharing of relevant data with multiple stakeholders and automate repetitive tasks.
This is where Hamilton Grant can help.
When accurately configured, the BAU is simplified. A single version of the truth is stored in a central location. Reports properly satisfy requestors. Product data can be leveraged by the whole business, without interrupting the Product Developer. Leaving them with more time to do the work that needs to be done.
The Hamilton Grant White Paper by Radar Insight covers the following topics:
Maintaining a Single Point of Truth (SPOT)
Adopting Meaningful Naming Conventions
Populating the GS1 National Product Catalogue
Becoming a customer of your own data
Accurately calculating your Australian Content Percentage
Want to keep reading? Click here.
Seeking small-scale clarity can often be more useful than generalising guessing from afar.
Where were you at 3AM on 19th of June? Most people were probably wisely tucked into bed, sound asleep.Not I, I was at the Birmingham Hotel in Fitzroy watching the Australian Socceroos play Netherlands in the World Cup. We all know the result, Australia lost 3-2, but watching the game I made a valuable discovery:
Joined by roughly one hundred other late-night soccer fans we crowded into the pub, hoping to see the Socceroos win, or at the very least put up a good fight against the Dutch.
In the function room the publican had set up the largest television they could find, giving everyone a glimpse of the game. The crowd filtered in, settled in for the game. We hadn’t realised it yet, but we were about to, this older, rear-projection TV was going to present two problems:
1. Poor picture quality — Sure, we could see the game, follow the ball and cheer/despair at the appropriate time; but for slow motion replays and appreciating the skilful ball movement — this TV was not able to cut it.
2. Narrow screen format — Our big screen was not properly tuned in before the start of the game, and as a result TV was chopping off a small portion of the picture at the top and the bottom. Yep, you guessed it, the missing picture is also exactly where the scoreboard and game clock appear.
Once the game was under way, we noticed that up the other end of the room was a smaller, newer, flat-screen TV. Perched up high this TV was also showing the game in crystal clear clarity. The size of this screen was not big enough to accommodate the entire room, however from a distance you could easily make out the players, the skilled footwork and easily read the scoreboard and clock.
When the game started, the majority of fans were gathered around the big screen, enjoying a beer and letting the game tick away. While everything was going smoothly the big screen with its ‘just good enough’ clarity was sufficient. However, when a goal was scored, a penalty was given or a poor decision was replayed, the big screen wasn’t appropriate and fans would turn toward the smaller screen.
As the game played out, the scores became closer.
As the scores became closer, viewers wanted more details:
“How long is left?”
“What’s the score?”
“Who was just substituted on/off?”
People started to switch from watching the big screen to the small, preferring the clarity and answers to their unasked questions.
Nearing half time, it was evident that this wasn’t going to deliver a predictable outcome.
Even if the Dutch won, Australia had been playing far better than expected. Viewers were keen to see and understand what was happening, how the Aussies had been so good. They no longer wanted to see the game on a large screen.
They wanted to know “What happened, and Why”? Something only the clarity of the small screen could deliver.
By the final whistle signalling the Australia’s defeat, the majority of the late night punters had their back to the big screen, watching the smaller screen preferring to be better informed for the game analysis later that morning around the water cooler.
So, what did I learn?
As most of you will know, I am an advocate for nimble, small-scale product research.
This night at the pub provided my “AHA” experience.
To gain the best insight, take the ‘small screen’ approach. The big screen is raises more questions than it answers. Small screen thinking uncovers clarity, understanding and insight.
As the punters and I found out, the devil (and opportunity) is discovered in the detail!
Nathan Myhrvold prepares & serves a fifty course meal for Ferran Adria — including salted red wine.Read More
I’ve given up, and here is why you should too!
Noelle Campbell has called a spade a spade and cleared up the differences between healthy sugar and non healthy sugar.
It doesn’t matter what a celebrity might say, or the minerals and vitamins present. To my knowledge, one sugar cannot be any more or less healthy than another sugar.
There is no healthy sugar.
Only a healthy amount of sugar (hint: it’s as little as possible).
Parmigiano Reggiano are not waiting for consumers to decided what drives liking.
Following my webinar for the AIFST looking at ways to Identify the Drivers of Liking in Food Products, I have kept my eyes peeled for producers who know what consumers expect of their product and aim to deliver it.
I didn't think of this approach, and it is a classic approach, used by people who make cheese, wine, salami and other 'artisan' products.
Parmigiano Reggiano are not waiting for consumers to decided what drives liking. They are not looking at data or consumer complaints. No, instead they are getting ahead of the pack and identifying for the consumers the characteristics of the product they should look for.
In the short film below, Parmigiano Reggiano walks us through the key visual and textural attributes to look for in a cheese. This approach allows Parmigiano Reggiano to tell the story their way.
Everything from how to best prepare the cheese (taking it out of the fridge 30 minutes before consuming) and the proper way to cut the cheese (using an almond shaped chunking tool) is included to ensure the consumer takes the right steps.
They talk about appearance attributes: colour and springiness, and textural attributes: hardness and in-mouth crumble.
What I like most is when they discuss the formation of Tyrosine Crystals.
To an unknowing, uneducated consumer, these crystals would seem to be indicative of a low quality product. Although with some simple guidance, a brief explanation and a reason fro being, consumers can now see, and consumer the cheese containing the crystals, safe in the knowledge that this is a sign of the correct aging process. This product isn't flawed, it is exactly as intended by the craftsmen and craftswomen who create it in Italy.
Drivers of Liking don't always have to be defined by consumers, you can always jump on the front foot and set the tone of the conversation.
Take a look, it's worth the 2 minutes and 47 seconds while you wait for your cup of tea to cool down.
Picking up on an idea from Jerry Seinfeld, when a big name from the world of Sensory and Consumer Research comes to Melbourne, I hope to meet with them, buy them a coffee and pick their brains about their specialist topic.
The NZ/OZ Sensory Symposium was recently held in Melbourne and I was lucky enough to catch up with Dr. Herb Meiselman, the guru of emotional research and our keynote speaker. I hope you enjoy it!
Can Trained Panels provide hedonic data better than consumers can scale sensory attributes?
Relying on trained sensory panels or internal employees to provide hedonic ratings has always been a big no-no. However, there have been some recent research findings that show the line between Consumer Research and Sensory Analysis blur, that is trained panels may be able to predict liking and consumers may be able to complete attribute scaling.
Seeking Herb's opinion of which approach he is more comfortable with, Herb said he felt more comfortable relying on consumers to provide attribute scaling, than trained panels to generate liking scores. Herb consistently reminded me: Never de-emphasis the value and importance of hedonic data generated by the target consumer. It can be useful at various stages throughout the product development cycle.
Are Rapid Sensory Profiling methods useful?
We focused on the Rapid Sensory profiling methods that are becoming more popular in consumer guided product development of late. While never one to shy away from recommending large Home Usage Tests or Central Location Tests, Herb sees the potential in methods that allow for co-creation with target consumers.
While some methodological precautions are required, using small consumer groups to guide development can result in cost savings and increased speed of reformulations. Until academic studies catch up and test these assumptions, Herb remains optimistically cautious "We don't know yet if they are valuable, they might be"
Any parting advice?
"Always aim to match a method to a need, not the other way around". Herb remains open to trying new methods if they can be proven by replication and practical outcomes. "Some people are rigid about methods. I want to see something that works, but also meets certain criteria"
Herb: English Breakfast Tea, Kevin: Mug of Cappuccino
Dr Herb is an expert in sensory & consumer research and product development evaluation. He has published more papers than Australia has had prime ministers, has worked with the US Defence forces to fuel soldiers and co-founded Targeting the Consumer short courses. He is internationally regarded for his work in the field of emotional research.
My interpretation of a Minimum Viable Product(MVP). A MVP is a prototype that requires the least possible effort, the smallest financial expenditure and the smallest production run required to produce a stimulus that is adequate to test a specific assumption about a new market or new product.
A minimum viable product gets enough polish so that testers have a realistic experience. But not so much polish that it could be launched tomorrow.
For example, if you are launching a new Berry infused chocolate bar, you might test the assumption 'I have the perfect flavour intensity for the berry note'. To do so, you wouldn't spend much time on perfecting the shape or weight of the finished good, just the flavour intensity.
We all know the tech space is comfortable launching beta versions of new software, getting their MVP out there and testing the consumer appeal for these products. How well does the food industry do?
From my experience, we aren't great at this, but we are getting better. When I first started work at Uncle Tobys (many moons ago) we show our products for consumer feedback, worried that someone might steal our idea. Instead we'd have the R&D team perfect a product before going to full scale consumer testing with 200 consumers, essentially crossing our fingers that somehow we'd got lucky and fluked a product that consumers actually liked.
Now my approach has changed. Most big questions in an NPD process could benefit from some form of consumer input. Using the cycle of:
- Here is an idea,
- Lets quickly test it in a small group with a bench top sample.
- How'd it go, what did they think,
- Do we continue to perfect this product or pivot to another new opportunity.
Too few companies allow the R&D team to run the development of new products, but this is a topic for another day. Often R&D teams are eager to change if it is based on data, not on a whim. The look to improve their products and most keen to rise to the challenge of creating products that are successful on shelf. This kind of thinking would fir perfectly with a MVP approach, a great addition to their current processes.
Here is how it could flow:
Goal - Launch a new moulded Chocolate with a soft filling
Assumption 1 - Consumers want a dark chocolate. Prototype. Test. Learn.
Assumption 2 - Consumers want this snack to be healthy. Ask them.
Assumption 3 - Consumer want a fruit flavoured filling. Are you sure, ask them, present samples, is it too sweet?
Assumption 4 - Consumers want this to be a single bite serve. How big is too big? Or to small?
Assumption 5 - Consumers love sea shell shaped moulded chocolates. Why not other animals or plants or geometric shapes?
By breaking the overall goal into smaller assumptions, these can then be quickly tested. Unconventional testing methods are available for testing flavour, fit to concept and liking of specific product components - just ask you Consumer Insight team.
Get your developer on board early. As the testing uncovers new learnings, product developers can roll these learnings into subsequent formulations. These learnings start to form the building blocks of the product, defining the product as you go, solidifying product attributes that become non negotiable - because it is what the consumer wants. How do we know? We've asked them.
From my perspective, this iterative, MVP approach to product development makes a lot more sense that plucking an idea out of thin air, spending hours formulating in the lab, scaling up once the CEO or Sales Manager likes the flavour of it, barging in on production time to run a trial and then heading to Consumer Testing with your fingers crossed....
This article was originally written by Seth Godin and appeared in his daily blog last week. I believe it is super relevant because we all to often measure what is simple, and make tenuos links back to our assumption. Seth suggests we should measure what we really want to know, and apply less conventional methods of interpretting the results.
The weight of a television set has nothing at all to do with the clarity of its picture. Even if you measure to a tenth of a gram, this precise data is useless.
Some people measure stereo equipment using fancy charts and graphs, even though the charts and graphs say little or nothing about how it actually sounds.
A person's Klout score or the number of Twitter followers she has probably doesn't have a lot to do with how much influence she actually has, even if you measure it quite carefully.
You can't tell if a book is any good by the number of words it contains, even though it's quite easy and direct to measure this.
We keep coming up with new things to measure (like processor speed, heat output, column inches) but it's pretty rare that those measurements are actually a proxy for the impact or quality we care about. It takes a lot of guts to stop measuring things that are measurable, and even more guts to create things that don't measure well by conventional means.
Sourced directly from theage.com.au
By Jeremy Loadman.
Alcohol and music aren't a bad match. So much so that many of us are scrolling through our music libraries for precisely the right accompaniment to rip the cork out, unscrew, or crack open a favourite tipple. It's common knowledge that certain drinks are best matched to some forms of music and types of atmosphere, but researchers are only now starting to ask how and why.
For Charles Spence, a Professor of experimental psychology at England's Oxford University, understanding this phenomenon lies in the way our senses interact. He explains by way of an analogy involving a lime and a string instrument: “If I gave you a taste of lime, you might think of something green, but if I gave you the acidic taste of lime you might also pick a high-pitched note. Limes don't make a high-pitched sound but when we ask most people in these experiments at Oxford, people will pick the high-pitched sound and maybe a string instrument rather than a brass instrument,” Spence says.
Late last year, he joined with the London Symphony Orchestra and a UK wine company to demonstrate the link between hearing and taste. During the evening people were asked to pair the sound of a cello or flute with that of a light, fruity wine. Overwhelmingly, people matched the taste of the wine with the flute. The aroma inside the glass is only part of the story.
“We are very interested in looking at these cross-sensory matches ... that certain bits of music will match what you are tasting and sort of direct your mind towards certain notes in food and drink,” Spence says. His research, however, goes well beyond the optimum pairing of refrains and refreshments. He is interested in understanding how the brain connects all the senses in order to discover ways of enriching the taste of food and drink.
Spence is thinking not just of sound and taste, but the overall environment: lighting, temperature, sounds and aromas present (this is most important as scientists now believe that 80-95 per cent of what we commonly think of as flavour is actually derived through the nose) - even the feel of the chair, the weight of the glass and the colour of the plate.
“The environment in which we are has an impact on our experience of that which we are drinking and eating. We all think we're just tasting only that which is in the glass, but environmental cues are sending subtle messages to our brains,” he says.
Unsurprisingly, Spence works closely with experimental chef Heston Blumenthal, who is famed for creating new dishes not in a kitchen but in a laboratory and regularly serves his creations with an olfactory primer.
If you're thinking this is more theatre or fanciful thinking than it is science, Spence cites a simple test as evidence – asking test subjects to compare the sweetness of the same drink coloured with either red or blue colouring. Typically, the blue drink needs to be made 10 per cent sweeter before they will be judged the same.
Spence also relates an experiment he carried out last year where he took people around differently decorated rooms, each with a glass of spirits in one hand and score card in the other. “We changed the environment room by room – we had one grassy room, one room with red lights and round frames and tinkling, high-pitched music and a woody-textured, smoky room. “Even though they knew that the drink had literally not changed, their scores were 15-20 per cent different room by room,” Spence says.
Executive Style's resident cocktail expert, Simon “Booze Hound” McGoram, is also the part-owner of a Bondi cocktail bar and confirms Australian establishments are putting more thought into creating an environment that enhance the drinking experience. McGoram notes the influence of London bar owner and “molecular mixologist” Tony Conigliaro, who like many trailblazing molecular gastronomists is exploring the neurological phenomena of “synethesia” to enhance the experience of his customers.
“Some might visit Conigliaro's bar and say 'this drink is amazing, it's the best tasting Whiskey Sour I've ever had'. But they don't realise that's because the music that's being played, the ambience that's been created, the type of vessel it's been served in, has all been researched beforehand,” McGoram says.
If every customer in a bar orders a different drink, though, how is it possible to create the perfect ambience for everyone?
Spence has some thoughts: “There is one bar in London where they are installing hyper-directional loudspeakers; what was initially used by the American military to deafen Somali pirates. “People at one table would hear one song and the people at the next table would hear another. There is a lot of fun to be had with the technology there.”
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/executive-style/top-drop/drinking-through-the-nose-20140121-316jr.html#ixzz2r4zIV8YX
Often when someone mentions the term 'startup' I think of the tech space - a small web development team in a dimly lit room smashing out code as quickly as possible. Some organisation designing and beta testing their latest app with trendsetters.
How different is this to the new product development in the food industry? Are there opportunities to learn from the tech startups that can be reapplied to traditional R&D teams? Until now, I would have been skeptical and thought they are poles apart. We have middle management to impress, large machinery on long runs that can't be interrupted and technical challenges and stringent regulations that computer geeks wouldn't even be able to Google. However all that changed when I started listening to the audiobook, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.
Eric starts by clearly defining what he sees as a startup:
A startup is a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty - Eric Ries
With such a broad definition of what a startup is, I started to the think 'Yep, R&D teams for every food manufacturer I know do this'. And with this concession I opened up to the possibility of learning from how a tech start up operates. As I listened to the book, I heard great examples of processes and principles that would apply directly to what we do as developers and food techs.
Our challenges are similar (not enough money, not enough time, too much steering from external forces), but the methodology and process we can use hone a product specifically for a customer are (or could be) remarkably similar
- - Test/Measure/Learn
- - Principles of Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
- - Validated Learning
- - Applying the Toyota principles of LEAN manufacture to NPD setting
Each of these principles would fit nicely and bring tremendous speed and value New Product Development process. Over the next few posts I will explain these in further detail and give examples of how using them will benefit you.
The lads at Parmigiano Reggiano have but together a short film (8:25) to explain the sensory characteristics they look for when testing a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
In this film, they put to one side the years of history behind the iconic cheese and focus on the sensations stimulated when evaluating this product. Igino Morini, Official Taster, pays respect to the individual nuances that can occur between each wheel of cheese - acceptable to an artisan product, but not often sort after in todays manufacturing.
"The sensorial analysis is the discipline that enables us to decode and understand the signals received by our senses at the moment of tasting"
The film talks through sight (colour and visual texture), aroma, flavour and mouthfeel. It also discusses the changes that can be expected depending on the production month or length of maturation. (A personal favourite part of this film is the number of seductive, dreamy gazes our host Ignio lovingly gives to each chunk of Parmesan.)
If you have a few minutes, have a look at this film, you might just learn one or two things to share next time someone asks about parmesan cheese!
Over the recent break, I went for a drive. And not a short drive either. I drove to Perth. It took 38 hours in the drivers seat to cover just over 3600km. Needless to say there was some time to kill.
I had prepared for this trip by downloading an audiobook called The Lean Start Up, by Eric Rimes. This book outlines the steps start-ups need to take to become more innovative, stop wasting peoples time and be more successful.
I recently promised myself to write more, and one way to do this is to share learnings from thing I read, work that I am involved in or observations of the industry. I hope to provide some gems of information, food for thought and thought for food. I allow myself no more than 20 minutes to write each post and no more than 10 minutes to edit and rephrase before I post.
So, follow along as I see how appropriate a Lean Start Up approach is for todays food industry!
My first realisation that Nutella was a global brand was in 2008, when I was looking for a snack to take on the next leg of the Trans Siberian Railway. I was in a supermarket in Mongolia, and Nutella was the only recognisable brand on the supermarket shelf.
Recently the OECD have compiled a report to look at mapping the global food chain. I have included some excerpts here to show how global Nutella really is - and I was nicely surprised.
Ferrero International manufactures about 250 000 tons of Nutella each year and this is sold in 75 countries. With it's headquarters in Italy, there are nine production locations, five in Europe, two in South America, and one in Russia, North America, and Australia.
They don't muck around when it comes to supplying ingredients either, with the largest components being globally supplied:
- - hazelnuts from Turkey,
- - palm oil from Malaysia,
- - cocoa from Nigeria,
- - sugar mainly from Brazil (but also from Europe) and finally
- - vanilla flavour from China (the manufacturer of vanillin is a French company).
My question is, how do they manage to achieve the same flavour profile from country to country? I am off to find out and will report back here when I know!
Full Report by the OECD on Mapping Global Food Chains: http://www.oecd.org/dac/aft/MappingGlobalValueChains_web_usb.pdf
Lion Diary and Drinks have just launched their latest Iced Coffee - Dare Cold Pressed.Radar Insight was able to partner with Lion on this project to deliver a unique blend of cold pressed and premium Arabica coffees, mixed with fresh permeate-free milk and a dash of raw sugar.
Using Rapid Profiling from Radar Insight, the brand team at Dare were able to ensure consumers were delivered an iced coffee beverage they desired. Dare worked through a number of variants and rapidly testing them to achieve the perfect the balance of coffee strength and sweetness.
And as a credit to the product Dare Cold Press have secured two of the biggest names in Australian coffee as ambassadors - Australian Barista Champion Matt Perger and St Ali cafe owner Salvatore Malatesta. Malatesta summarised the drink perfectly saying Dare Cold Pressed is a 'refreshing change for the second or third coffee of the day, particularly for the corporate sector and office workers'.
This man is about to attempt to eat a 5kg pizza. It costs $50 and would easily feed a family. In a tag team-effort, with one other person, the challenge is to finish the pizza within an hour. If successful they will take home $250.
If pizza isn't your thing, perhaps the KIDZ breakfast might be more appealing (named because it weighs as much as a small kid), or a 2kg steak complete with bread roll, shrimp cocktail and salad. There is even a 'ladies only' challenges - consume a 3kg buritto in one hour and receive free food for life!
This list of 18 Insane Food Challenges popped up in my Twitter stream (@radarinsight) and I felt compelled to share it. I don't know why people undertake these challenges, but I am impressed that kitchens still offer these gargantuan serves for those willing to test themselves.