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Understanding the Full Lifecycle of Food and Beverage Products

Understanding the Full Lifecycle of Food and Beverage Products

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Understanding the Full Lifecycle of Food and Beverage Products

Jun 2, 2022

John McCurdy
Colorful macaroons in a package.

For your average everyday shopper, the idea of a food or beverage product having a “lifecycle” is quite foreign and perhaps even a little nonsensical. These are simply items to be picked off a shelf in a grocery store and incorporated into meals or enjoyed as-is—not something that requires great foresight, planning and a cohesive plan in order to achieve success.

Of course, as an industry professional yourself, you know that much more goes into the development and delivery to market of any given finished good in the food and beverage sector. Specially trained scientists design it meticulously, marketing experts make sure it aligns with current appetites, financial analysts evaluate its profitability and upper-level project managers consider how packaging and any other inedible portions will be disposed of.

It’s a much more involved process than those on the outside might initially assume, and it’s an area of particular interest and relevance considering how quickly consumer preferences and product trends are evolving today. Companies like yours are incentivised to pivot and tailor their offerings according to these changes, and thus product lifecycle management (PLM) is likely top-of-mind at your organisation.

Given that the topic is complex and involves many steps, we’ll try to simplify matters by breaking it down into four distinct stages in this blog post. We’ll also make special mention of critical considerations within each phase and how PLM software for food and beverage businesses helps drive better results all along the way.

1. Ideation

In the ideation stage, your research and development teams will work in coordination with your marketing department to identify opportunities according to the latest and greatest in tastes, ingredients and product benefits. They’ll need to work within the constraints of your particular segment—it’s rare that a snack manufacturer would branch out into bakery or dairy, after all—but your staff should feel empowered to flex their creativity.

Once the “hook” of the item has been established—be it a gluten-free version of a staple in your lineup, a more convenient on-the-go format for today’s busy consumers or an entirely new concept unlike any others you’ve put out before—defining the recipe and/or formula will be the next action item. This will include the specific ingredients and the precise measurements to use, and knowing there will almost certainly be many tweaks along the way as tests are conducted, keeping track of it all in a digital format is a must.

That’s where PLM solutions and their dedicated recipe and formula management tools really come in handy. By maintaining and updating such critical information in a single platform shared across the organisation, everyone involved can be kept apprised of modifications as they occur, and important factors like allergen concerns and pertinent regulations can be flagged from the start so that they don’t fly under the radar until it’s too late.

2. Growth

The growth stage of a food or beverage product’s lifecycle involves further iteration on the product recipe to establish its final form, as well as extensive work by the marketing department to determine the ideal positioning given the current industry landscape. Together, these teams will prepare the item for launch and work closely with those in charge of packaging and labeling to make sure the item has the best chance possible to seize a share of shoppers’ budgets.

More testing involving external evaluators, including focus groups, can help your company gauge interest and adapt the product—as well as its name, look and the messaging around it—to either appeal to as wide an audience as possible or really hone in on a target demographic. Everything, from the taste and consistency of the item itself to the colours and words on the box, bag or wrapper, should be scrutinised.

Once all parties are satisfied that you’re ready to bring the finished good to market, a purpose-built PLM system for food and beverage can streamline the matter by codifying all of the parameters your teams have perfected. You’ll be able to verify all nutritional information is accurate and conveyed in a transparent fashion with tools for that specific purpose, and dedicated compliance features will ensure that everything is up to snuff according to the local enforcement agencies.

3. Maturity

Once the product is launched and officially enters its maturity stage, you’d think that the time for changes is over—but that’s not the case in a world as dynamic as food and beverage. Over time, alterations to the recipe may be desirable or even necessary due to supply shortages, and new packaging standards may emerge that demand a shift in your status quo.

Your PLM solution will continue to be indispensable throughout this phase, as you’ll need to turn to the same recipe and formula management tools used earlier on to apply any modifications, and the packaging and marketing modules will be necessary for adjustments of those aspects. What’s more, regulations are a subject of much discourse around the world and continue to evolve, so your PLM’s compliance functions will remain highly relevant going forward.

Finally, consider that an advanced system—like our own Aptean Food and Beverage PLM Lascom Edition—can integrate with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that includes robust financial analytics to discern profitability of your new offering and how pricing may need to be revised. That will help you get the most out of your exciting new products while maintaining the momentum you’ve built with the launch.

4. Decline

While you may have less and less control as the lifecycle progresses and your product goes from sitting on grocery store shelves to in the consumer’s fridge or pantry, there are steps you can and should take to influence the final stage of the product lifecycle.

For example, you can influence how the packaging of your goods is disposed of by using recyclable materials and minimising the amount of unnecessary material used, and in that way your company does play a key role in the end of the lifecycle for each particular instance of your product. Knowing that sustainability is increasingly seen as an imperative, especially in an industry that has as large an impact on the environment as food and beverage, should motivate your organisation to do all it can to limit your carbon footprint.

The aforementioned packaging and labeling functionalities of PLM software will serve you well in this endeavour. You’ll not only be able to specify which materials should be used to make your items as eco-friendly as possible—you’ll also have full control over the messaging to include on the package to communicate to the end consumer how they can most responsibly dispose of what’s left over after they’ve enjoyed what they purchased.

The Key Differentiators of Aptean’s PLM Software for Food and Beverage

For readers who have reached the end of this piece convinced that PLM software is something your company should consider, you’ll find that there is no shortage of options on the market. But before you pluck the first one off the virtual shelf and rush forward with a full implementation, it’s important to understand that not all of these systems are created equally.

Here at Aptean, we have decades of collective food and beverage industry knowledge, and we’ve put that expertise to good use in the development of Aptean Food & Beverage PLM Lascom Edition. For example, we know the cost of food safety emergencies and how much of a risk undeclared allergens can be in the manufacturing process, so we’ve made sure to include features that not only flag potentially problematic ingredients but also track shared manufacturing surfaces and equipment to head off cross-contaminations.

Our platform also serves as an inter-departmental “single source of truth” for everyone involved in new product development, ensuring that there’s no duplication of data or discrepancies in your information. Taking it a step further, the interface updates in real time as new readings and information come in, keeping your stakeholders in the know regarding the latest changes and results.

For one final benefit to keep in mind, our PLM for food and beverage organisations makes proper documentation and labeling a breeze with tools to automate the process and ensure that you disclose all that is required by law in your areas of operation. That should give you the peace of mind to move ahead with your launches with confidence while mitigating any risks of noncompliance.

Now, if you’re ready to hear more about Aptean Food & Beverage PLM Lascom Edition, reach out to us today. You can also schedule a personalised demo to get a look at the solution in action.

Finding Compliance in a Rapidly Evolving, Global Regulatory Environment

From ingredients to labels to packaging, food and beverage manufacturers face many challenges to remain compliant with the various laws and regulations.

Tell us about yourself and an Aptean specialist will be in touch.