Food products and the food system

Products interact with every part of the food system from primary production to the consumer as shown in Fig. 1.1. The new cereal, high in protein, may go to the processor to produce a specialised protein product for bakers, or to a food manufacturer to make a high-protein breakfast cereal, or to a vegetarian fast-food outlet as a meat replacer, or to a supermarket as an ingredient for home-prepared muesli or directly to the consumer for use in a home breadmaker. A new product in one part of the food system can cause new products in other parts.

There is a need to distinguish the three groups of products:

1. Primary products from sea and the land.

2. Industrial ingredients from food processors.

3. Consumer products from food manufacturers and food service.

They basically have the same product development process, but there are activities and techniques specific to each area.

There is a need to recognise the total product in each case. There is a formal product with its associations such as service, know-how and image as identified by the company (Crawford, 1997), and then the product concept of the consumer or customer. A McDonald's hamburger may seem a simple product but it has strong associated benefits such as convenience, price, fast service and hygiene, along with a very powerful allure especially for young people of the good things in American life. Food service products usually have a high proportion of services, but so do industrial products and increasingly primary products.

Primary production

Industrial ingredients processor

Consumer products manufacturer |

Supermarket

Consumer

Restaurant, take-away Consumer

Fig. 1.1 The food system.

The industries upstream from the food manufacturer are important contributors of innovation (Rama, 1996). Both the ingredient suppliers and the equipment suppliers can have a pivotal role in innovation in the food industry. Agricultural and now marine farming are also major sources of innovation both of fresh products, and of materials designed for processing. So the innovation spectrum broadens and deepens.

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