Product Design and Process Development
5.5 PRODUCT FORMULATION
Many food products are made by combining raw materials in specific proportions in a formulation, and research on the effects of various formulations on product qualities is common in product design.
In systematic formulation there are five steps:
Set the product qualities required,
Find data for the raw material compositions, qualities and costs,
Determine limits on the raw materials and the processing variables,
Use quantitative techniques: linear programming, experimental
designs, mixture designs,*
Use product profile tests and technical tests to relate product
qualities to changes in formulations.
(*there are many useful computer software packages to
use these statistical techniques.)
The raw materials can be divided into two groups: the basic product raw materials and the 'top' or aesthetic raw materials. This does not mean that the basic raw materials do not give aesthetic qualities to the product - in fact in modern food design this is recognised as a fundamental factor. But sometimes there is a need for the addition of colours and flavours to improve the aesthetic effect.
The important properties of the raw materials in relation to the product qualities are recognised in the product design, as shown in Example 5.2.
In formulation studies, the important development in the last ten years has been the use of the computer.
First, there is the raw material database on the computer; this started by detailing the chemical and nutritional compositions of different raw materials but has expanded to other properties such as microbiological quality, sensory qualities and to the effects of raw materials in processing, where this information is available. For companies with a narrow range of products, this raw materials database can be used in all product development projects as a starting point for formulation; in other companies with a wide-ranging product mix there may be need for two or three databases. The database is only useful if it is kept up-to-date and is also related to the company's buying policy.
The database can be used to build and analyse various formulations to see how they fit the criteria for the product qualities, the costs and the processing. This can be done quite simply using computer spreadsheets. There are also expert systems available which provide a decision support framework made up of two parts: a task part containing the distinct problem-solving steps involved in creating a formulation, and a physical part with the specific knowledge about the properties of the raw materials and the processes involved. As more information is obtained from factorial experimentation, mathematical relationships between the raw materials in the formulation and the product qualities are developed and these can be used in such techniques as linear programming.
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