EasiYo wanted to develop some innovative new range-extensions, based on the dry blended yoghurt mixes that are made up with water in the yoghurt maker. These mixes had a range of fat contents and came in flavoured or unflavoured, sweetened or unsweetened varieties.
Premium high fruit content toppings were developed to supplement the yoghurt range as well as for use on ice cream. Since their primary use was for flavouring the yoghurt, consideration was needed in the balance of pH, acidity and sweetness for full flavour development while maintaining good yoghurt structure.
Confectionery style toppings were developed to supplement EasiYo’s yoghurt ice cream. These toppings were made to be chewy like a piece of toffee at ice cream serving temperature, while being thin enough to pour from the bottle at room temperature.
These two styles of topping required a different understanding and approach to their development. The fruit toppings were closer to the ripples used in the ice cream industry although they didn’t have the same stabilising system required for frozen applications. The toffee-type toppings, however, had their roots in the confectionery industry and were based on the correct sugar-glucose balance to give viscosity and prevent sugar crystallisation.
"Almost 100% of the products we sell today are ones that you have developed
Although not exhaustive, here are some of the key product and process development steps that we worked through:
Idea generation is typically based on the existing product mix, consumer trends and changes, new ingredient innovations, existing capability, preliminary economic analysis, profit and volume expectations. Always in conjunction with marketing.
Given the known constraints within EasiYo’s production and distribution system at the time, its markets and its product mix, many ideas and concepts were self eliminating. Those that remained were usually benchmarked against something - an existing product, a formulation, or a specific set of physical or chemical requirements.
Before we donned our white coats and disappeared into the development laboratory, we did our homework to identify any additional constraints or road blocks to delivering on EasiYo's brief. This included identifying ingredients, packaging requirements, processing hurdles and a pre-development review of the regulatory requirements that would apply to the products in question.
This stage, which includes formulating and testing samples in the laboratory, is by far the largest component of the development process. EasiYo had a preference for an empirical, linear approach to product development. This is an intuitive, step-wise progression, where variables are changed one at a time and the outcome assessed before moving to the next trial sample.
An alternative to this is a less intuitive, non-linear approach, where all the variables are changed at once in a factorial experimental design and the outcomes scored. The scores are then statistically analysed to produce a response surface together with an indication of ingredient interactions.
Primary and secondary suppliers were identified and cost models, nutrition profiles and ingredient statements developed. Cost and nutrition are easily revised and both are integral to prototype development. In some cases, such as where contract manufacturers are being used, least cost may be a driving factor.
Once each product or range of products had been developed, storage trials were conducted. In some cases shipping trials were also carried out.
We then provided a label compliance service for EasiYo’s finished packaging artwork. Each new label was checked against the requirements and EasiYo was supplied with a checklist detailing any changes that needed to be made.
During prototype development in the laboratory, the manufacturing system was also developed. Although EasiYo packaged its own yoghurt mix, at that stage it used contract manufacturers for the toppings and other new products. We provided technical support to the contractors during this new product start-up phase.