Some brief comments on the case studies

These case studies were selected to illustrate the PD Process in different but common food industry situations. They are not typical in that no one case is ever typical, but they show and demonstrate much that has been considered in this book, reinforce the claims that the concepts are practical, and briefly set out the way in which real product development problems have been handled.

The first case study looked at a fruit, fresh apples, that is quite a major commodity, moving from New Zealand to world markets with relatively little processing. For fresh fruits, product development into new varieties can be a powerful tool in gaining and retaining market share, and the aim of the project was to develop a new type of apple which could lead to a number of varieties. A great deal of expertise had been built up and this substantially guided the project, though it was appreciated that this has vulnerabilities and increasingly inputs from the consumers are being sought. Modern technology has opened up possibilities for more organised and sophisticated technical developments for the growing processes, but this type of product development has special features of its own and in particular a long time scale which many food companies would find very hard to contemplate.

The second case study looked also at a fruit in which the primary concerns were to bring better returns from a significant export trade. Being very much a consumer product, the work was largely based around modern statistical techniques of consumer research. The study met two major objectives. One was to guide the shorter-term decision making in seeking a product that made the best of available fruit and its organisation on to the markets. The other was to generate information that can be used in the longer term to guide possible future breeding and improvement of the fruit lines.

The third case study demonstrated a step in a continuing programme for the generation of new and more valuable specialised food ingredients from a major food raw material. In this, highly sophisticated processing was employed, which had to be developed so that it was successful not only in production but also in the market. The basic information came from the literature, and this was further generated and extended, and industrially implemented, by the development technologists. There was much technical work to be done, both technical development in the product and in the processing, and in the technical sales. There were also quite major design and commissioning to be undertaken and with them capital expenditures, and marketing development. The resulting high-grade, highly specified ingredient had to be produced and exported to match into expensively promoted manufactured foods with elaborate and demanding acceptance criteria.

The fourth case study was a more typical one of a food manufacturer, a large well-established one, wishing to diversify into a new product and product platform. In this case the information employed was largely in-trade and in-house. A substantial product development and marketing organisation was in place, but there were still plenty of challenges. They included the designing of a rather different product and product image, the setting up and handling of packaging with problems new to this factory, the industrial line reorganisation needed, the possibility of adventurous marketing which was cleverly exploited, and, not the least, a very tight time scale.

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