Why Food Manufacturing R&D Collaboration Is a Must


Some established companies in the food and beverage industry are accustomed to “going it alone” when it comes to product development. That could be a missed opportunity, according to research. Collaboration with external partners affects “innovative output positively by providing three substantive benefits: knowledge sharing, risk reduction, and speed of development.”

Being able to talk and work with your suppliers can truly take your innovation to the next level and is typically not a hard process to get started. Ingredient supply chain collaboration is easier and more cost-effective than ever due to interactive video conferencing apps and other technologies. Getting conversations started is the first step in achieving better and faster innovation. But what should food manufacturers expect from these interactions?

Ingredient Supply Chain Collaboration Expectations

Food manufacturing R&D teams that embrace external collaboration with their ingredient supply chain partners can gain a significant competitive advantage. Ingredient manufacturers hold a lot of knowledge that food manufacturers can tap into for many different types of projects and questions.

Resource sharing between organizations is critical in the ideation and innovation process. To gauge how collaborative your ingredient supplier is, ask them the following questions: 

  • Will you help us troubleshoot why our formula is separating or has a poor texture, and help develop solutions?
  • How can you help us clean up labels or improve nutrition?
  • Do you have food scientists who can visit our lab or manufacturing facility to perfect a formulation using our systems?
  • Can you help us come up with new products or trending flavor profiles backed by market share data?
  • Can you perform a controlled study to compare your ingredients with others in our application? 
  • Will you formulate our product using your ingredients and send us a demo sample to try?

An Example of Food & Beverage R&D Collaboration

Don’t be afraid to ask whether your ingredient supplier can offer the expertise of their own R&D and applications teams. For example, Grande Custom Ingredients Group collaborated with a cheese sauce manufacturer to help extend the life of a macaroni and cheese application when kept on a hot-hold steam table. 

Our food scientists worked closely with the company’s R&D team to develop a duplicate test sample of their application using Grande Gusto® to replace a portion of the processed cheese. By working together, the two teams were able to deliver a creamy, flavorful product that extended the life of the application by 50% compared to the control.

Collaborative Cheese Sauce Steam Table Study Results

The need for food manufacturers to collaborate with ingredient suppliers who can double as application consultants is more important than ever. Collectively, you can obtain greater results than can be achieved independently and can experience the following benefits.

Benefits of Supply Chain Collaboration

1. Information Sharing of Food Industry Knowledge

Combining the wisdom of multiple experts from your company and those of your ingredient suppliers can help a company learn about similar challenges that other manufacturers face.

An ingredient supplier’s team of food scientists knows how their ingredients perform in various applications and production processes based on past experience, and can apply that knowledge to your products. As a standard practice, you’ll want a written non-disclosure agreement to protect any proprietary trade secrets and intellectual property. 

2. Improved Speed to Market & Product Quality

Leveraging the knowledge of multiple sources allows organizations to make decisions faster and react to market needs and trends more quickly. Working directly with your ingredient supplier minimizes wasted time spent trying to figure out whether an ingredient will perform well in your application, therefore improving production timelines. 

For example, are you reformulating a creamy sauce or soup and want to find ways to reduce the use of heavy cream without compromising texture or taste? A true partner will quickly get to work in collaboration with you to determine proper replacement ratios and apply proper processing techniques to assist you in developing a solution that addresses your needs.

3. Reduced Product Development Costs

Minimizing time spent in product development can save thousands in labor costs and R&D spending. An innovative ingredient partner will also look for ways to optimize ingredient costs that may not have been on a food manufacturer’s radar

For example, working with a supplier that provides price-stable alternatives for volatile commodity dairy can help even out cash flow and make it easier to budget for ingredient costs (and improve the accuracy of forecasts). An innovative consultant will find ways to optimize costs and not simply focus on a single solution. They also help you find ways to streamline your ingredient inventory and reduce supply chain disruption.

4. Long-term Partner Relationships

An applications consultant who has a true partner mindset will keep your goals and potential challenges top-of-mind. When a new advancement is made that could potentially improve your products, you’ll be among the first to know. 

Grande Custom Ingredients Group does more than just supply whey protein ingredients. Our team of food scientists eagerly anticipates opportunities to help food manufacturers perfect their formulations and work hard to find the best solutions possible. 

When researching and developing a new food product or reformulating an existing one, reach out to us for a free consultation. Or, if you have questions about our R&D capabilities, let’s talk. Simply click the link below.

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