Recently, you may have seen one of our Facebook Live Q&A’s where Bulk MD Ben Crowley and Research and Development staff member Nicole Frain, talked about product development including some of the challenges, fun tasks and what we are currently working on in the labs.
So we thought we would write a more in-depth article discussing all of the nitty, gritty details on developing a product.
How we develop a product
We receive many development requests at Bulk HQ and most of them get passed on to our Research and Development team.
So when we receive your recommendations of developing a peanut butter flavoured protein, protein bars and chips, it’s not that we are ignoring you. It’s that there is a process that happens behind the scenes at Bulk HQ that must occur first to help make your dreams come to life.
First thing to understand is the different types of product development. The difference between developing a new flavour to a pre-existing range (like our Protein Matrix) is very different to developing a brand new product line which we do not already stock (like protein bars).
But what makes it so different?
Developing a new flavour
Well it’s your starting base that makes the process so different.
Let’s go back to the Protein Matrix scenario. When we want to develop a new flavour, we are simply flavouring a base blended product that we essentially know works well. So the hard work in this case comes from the research into what flavour to choose, what flavouring stocks we may already have, the current market trends and the pricing points.
Essentially we can create any flavour, but we have to make sure the source is viable, the flavour tastes good, and of course that it is a flavour that you (our valued customers) would want to buy.
A hold up on a flavouring task could come from supply chains, but also simply from finding a flavour we are happy with.
Take for example caramel. There is not just one generic caramel flavour. In fact you can have candy caramel, sugar caramel, burnt caramel, creamy caramel, caramel crème, salted caramel, toffee, molasses, bitter, browned and the list goes on. And it’s important to choose the one that works for what we hope to achieve.
Developing a brand new product
When it comes to a new product like protein bars, we are starting from a scratch. Just like when we released Quick Protein Pancakes or Future Whey – which took 18 months in the development stage – we had to research what ingredients we were going to include which have to be in line with our end product goal. As well as this, we have to consider the cost of inclusion, in some cases source suppliers and then of course, actually coming up with the formula of ingredients.
Formulation can take months. From making the product, taste testing, small tweaks, internal testing, receiving feedback, evaluating feedback, reassessing, adjusting changes and the list goes on.
There will be some products that go through the entire process and for whatever reason, we cannot make them work.
Maybe we don’t like them for what they are, the product is not financially viable, the market has moved and we have decided it’s not the right time and we might hold off on a launch.
A great example of this can be a winter product, which we complete development of at the end of winter (like Whey Hot). So we might hold off on release to ensure the product is relevant to the time.
After the lab work and the development stage comes the finishing touches. The marketing team and graphic designers who all work together to get the product looking good in the packaging, providing you with all the correct details online and on the bags, and of course making sure you are aware of the product on our website as well as our social media.
None of this can happen overnight, and a lead up allowance time for these teams to work together has to be scheduled in.
So, when you make your suggestions via social media or email, we might even be giving that sweet, new flavour idea a go in the lab this afternoon. But alas, we can’t do it all at once and sometimes the tests aren’t in our favour.
Have a suggestion? Let us know.