As a student with little to no background in Research & Development or Product Innovation, I was extremely excited to see what Food Science week would offer. Just as the previous weeks, I was not disappointed. At the Innovation Center, our group got a taste—pun intended—of the steps that go into taking a product from the “discovery” phase to the shelf.
It wouldn’t be Food Science week without sampling various products. To say that we sampled a lot of ketchup is quite an understatement. After being divided into teams and tasked with creating different flavor profiles for Heinz Ketchup, we were able to bring our ideas to life. First we tested our ideas on a 100g sample, and then recreated them on a 1000g batch. Then, we sampled each groups’ creation and voted on the top performers. Two teams were eliminated, leaving four to create their ketchup in the pilot plant. There was no room for error, as this step involved creating 516lb batches of the flavored ketchups! Touring the plant, measuring the ingredients, and observing the bottling line processes gave us all such a great education on what goes into putting a quality product on the shelves. And even better, we got to sample the final products and take a consumer survey to vote for the best.
Any week during training wouldn’t be complete without a case study, and this week we were given the opportunity to get creative. We were presented with the task of combining Heinz and Kraft products to create a new, innovative product. We presented the ideas we came up with to a large panel, who then voted on “best presentation,” “idea most likely to go to shelf,” and “most creative.” It was extremely apparent that data, consumer insights, and research are all very important in developing a successful product. The development of a new product would not be possible without the assistance of other roles as well, such as marketing, finance, and supply chain. The importance of knowing the cross-functionality of roles is the key to success!
Finally, we wrapped the week up with a Negotiations workshop. We learned many skills that we will be able to use in the future to reach our goals. Food Science week allowed our creativity to run wild and brought each step of the innovation and production processes to life.