Developing a food formulation is an important step in the product development process. The different ingredients used and the amount in which they are included in the formulation will determine the processing variables for the product. For example, during the manufacturing of high protein foods, temperature is an important factor to be taken into account as high temperature can result in the denaturation of the protein molecules.
The crucial steps involved in developing a food formulation are listed below:
- The first and the most crucial step is study and understand the product definitions described in the FSSAI legislation. A product developer needs to make sure that each and every ingredient as well as the final product complies with the regulations. For example, according to FSSAI, an instant coffee-chicory mixture needs to have at least 51% coffee as its ingredient.
- The next step is to set the product qualities that are desired by you or your company. This will help you to figure out the content for the nutritional label as well. For example, Danone’s Protinex focuses on providing a product with higher protein content to its consumers.
- Gather the data for the raw materials’ composition, effect of processing on each of them and their costs. Cost plays an important role in finalizing the raw ingredients to be used for the product. For example, whey protein concentrate will be a costlier (and higher) source of protein in comparison to the skimmed milk powder. Therefore a comprehensive study is required to find the right balance between the nutritional advantages an ingredient offers and its cost. Once the basic ingredients are finalized, determine if any aesthetic raw materials such as food color or flavor would be required.
- The next step is to develop a composition for the product. Determine the amount of each ingredient to be included in the recipe.
- Decide the processing variables for the manufacturing of the product. Conduct small scale trials to optimize the combination of time, temperature, pH and other variables during the manufacturing process.
- Continuously analyze the end product derived after each trial to relate product qualities to changes in formulations. Make sure to record your observations.
- Iterate the process until and unless the desired physical, chemical, microbiological and sensory properties are achieved. Once the desired product is developed, finalize the recipe. Record the physical, chemical and microbiological parameters for each of the ingredient involved in the recipe. This would help to make sure that after every trial, the product obtained has exactly same properties.