New Product Development

One of major existing customers came to us to ask for our help to develop a new coffee drink to extend their range. They had identified that there was considerable growth in non-dairy drinks and “free- from” foods and thought there was a gap in the market for a UHT dairy free coffee based drink, in an “on the move” pack format. The 330ml Tetra Dream cap carton being ideal for this application and which fitted perfectly with our capabilities.

They had discussed the potential interest with some of their retail customers and had a very enthusiastic response but they weren’t sure how best to go about it and what is should contain in the recipe so they needed our expertise to do this for them. We initially explored all the plant based options potentially open to them and after some discussion it was decided to base the product on oat. This gave a good neutral base that wouldn’t affect the coffee flavour and also some associated health connotations for the consumer that would identify positively with this description.

One of our technologists then set out an in initial recipe for costing and we made up some samples for them to taste to get the development progressing. They had several rounds of adjusting and tasting and then to give it the final tweaks they came and spent the day with us in our NPD kitchen to get to a final recipe they were happy with.

Having then decided the recipe was ready to go onto the next stage of production testing they took the brave step of making the first batch in the factory with printed packaging, such was their confidence in us that the recipe would work in the factory. In actual fact we did have to make a few tweaks to the mixing and processing method but this was all part of the learning curve and the customer got a product that moved quickly to market and is growing their market share. They have been so successful with the non-dairy version of their famous coffee recipe that they have extended it from the initial 330ml grab and go pack to add a 1L take home version as well.

Cooked Omelette Process Improvement.

Our omelette lines have been so popular that we have struggled at times to keep up with demand. One of our larger volume lines was developed as a small 50g cheese omelette for breakfast item in a well know bakery chain and we were experiencing exponential growth in the volumes we needed to make. However the method used for making it was causing something of a bottleneck and it was slow, very messy and labour intensive. The final omelette mix was made by pasteurising the egg and milk and then just before it was needed for depositing and cooking it was mixed by hand with grated cheese in a small batch container using a large hand blender.

The challenge was to make this process more efficient and enable the line to work faster to keep up with demand. The NPD team looked at the recipe and decided it could be possible to make the recipe as an all in one method in our large 5 tonne mixing vessels and then try to pasteurise it. This was something we had never tried before and we had some doubters but we never let that stop us trying it.

Our first trial was very successful and the initial omelettes were good but we decided the recipe needed a little more refinement but after a second trial we got a recipe and method that worked perfectly. This meant we could make large quantities of cheese omelette mix all at once that was stable and had extended shelf life as it was fully pasteurised. The omelette line efficiency was much improved, and it reduced the labour to make the recipe and a longer shelf life meant more scheduling flexibility, and much less mess or waste from the new process that was developed. The customer was very happy with the end product and some would say it was an improvement on the old one.