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How Food and Beverage Businesses Revolutionize New Product Development with PLM

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Developing a new food and beverage product is far from straightforward. If only it was a linear progression from concept to sourcing to formulation! In reality, the process involves a lot of back-and-forth between teams, recipe revisions, adjustments to nutritional profiles and input from many different stakeholders, all with different goals and priorities.

Trying to manage this process with spreadsheets, cloud file storage and email chains is a recipe for disaster, causing issues with version control, errors and delays. Increasingly, food and beverage brands, retailers and producers are turning to Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions to improve visibility, communication and opportunities for collaboration across all teams working on the same product. Here’s why.

Reliable data powers ideation

Marketing/ideation teams have to balance a lot of product requirements, such as trends, market fit, sustainability, profitability and consistency with brand philosophy. To make informed decisions about product viability, they need visibility into the current product portfolio and access to reliable, up-to-date information. It can also be hard to capture and track ideas. Ideas that are discarded are useful too, as they could be a great fit for a future product – but if no one records them, they get lost.

PLM solutions are a ‘single source of truth’, holding all historical and present product-related information and potentially pulling in data from other software platforms through integrations. Food and beverage brands, retailers and producers can use PLM to capture ideas as they develop, retain previously failed developments or unused product ideas and re-combine concepts in dynamic and innovative ways.

Visibility enables accurate costing

Access to reliable costing data for ingredients, packaging, manufacturing, labor and transport at an early stage is critical for decision-making, especially in this age of inflation. Teams need the ability to easily compare suppliers and producers, respond to supply chain disruptions and choose products for development according to their ability to match the right price point and target margin.

A PLM solution that is integrated with planning, ERP or supply chain management platforms can provide visibility into up-to-date cost and margin data at all stages of ideation and formulation, incorporating live material and overhead costs into product what-if scenarios. PLM solutions with modern sourcing tools also make it easier to quickly compare supplier offerings, quotes and manufacturing options, and give buyers the critical information they need to negotiate better prices.

Better communication streamlines formulation

Formulation is not a straight line, with lots of branching versions of recipes and product prototypes. The formulation team has a very complex task, needing to integrate many different requirements into a product formula, such as nutrition, flavor, core ingredients, allergen profile, costs and regulatory compliance. Hold-ups can occur due to gaps in continuity between marketing and R&D, particularly in relation to product briefs, and a lack of visibility into necessary data, such as regional regulations that affect ingredient choices.

PLM solutions can track different formulas related to a product concept, integrate live data from other systems and give teams a central digital hub for collaborative formula development. PLM collates different types of information, providing a more holistic overview of products in the development phase enabling formulation teams to bring products to market faster while also maintaining accuracy, quality and compliance.

With a robust and flexible PLM solution in place, ideation, costing and formulation teams work more collaboratively and make decisions based on sound data. By optimizing visibility and communication while connecting teams to one source of truth, food and beverage brands, retailers and producers have the digital foundation they need to successfully drive the entire product development and launch process.

Want to find out more about how PLM enables food and beverage businesses to develop exciting and profitable new products? Read our eBook, Optimize Ideation, Costing and Formulation with PLM.