What’s it all about then?
New Product Development technologists work in the food industry to create food that is safe and attractive to customers.
You’re going to be concerned with planning the large scale manufacture of food products and this’ll involve producing samples and designing the processes that will enable these to be made in large quantities without any loss of quality or taste.
You could work to improve existing recipes or help with the invention of new ones.
Very often you’ll work alongside development chefs to produce ort amend kitchen samples into recipes that can be easily produced in large volume through the design of processes and machinery to make these products.
And of course all of this must be done within a strict and ever-changing regulatory framework around the treatment of foodstuffs.
What might I be doing?
Your role will vary depending on the size of the company you’re working for, the sub-sector they operate in and quite possibly, the customer for whom you’re developing products. However, tasks common to the job are likely to include:
- Modifying current products and processes and developing new ones
- Continually researching markets and technologies to develop new product concepts
- Selecting raw materials and other ingredients from suppliers
- Preparing product costings to ensure profitable products
- Auditing suppliers or managing internal audits from customers
- Co-ordinating launches of new products or running trials
- Dealing with any customer complaint investigations or product issues
- Drawing up product specifications and ensuring new products can be manufactured profitably and safely
- Working with range of colleagues within the company to ensure that your products will have a successful launch and manufacturing life
- Developing the ability to repeat processes to ensure consistency and safety;
- Working with official food inspection and hygiene agencies
- Working with engineering/production to develop solutions to production issues whilst maintaining food safety;
What will be expected of me?
You’ll obviously need to have an interest in the chemistry of foods and the science of food preparation and its application to the food development process.
The job involves paying a lot of attention to detail and you’ll also need to have good written and verbal skills to prepare reports and present ideas to customers.
You’ll be enthusiastic about food and know loads about what’s happening in your company’s markets.
As you need to deal with lots of people in this role, you’ll definitely need to be the sort of person who enjoys meeting others and discussing new ideas.
As a new product development technologist, you will be expected to keep right on top of any changes in food-related legislation and possible impacts on your company - and you should also be a stickler for food safety and hygiene.
What can I expect?
Your working week will be a standard 40 hours and you’ll spend a lot of time in the factory as you keep an eye on production processes and operations and run trials – this of course means wearing protective clothing at times.
In many firms you may have to work shifts or weekends when production comes off peak in order to get your trials done although some may have dedicated trials areas.
Travel to customers and suppliers should also be expected in this role.
What about the pay?
You’re likely starting salary will be somewhere around £19,000 to £25,000 a year depending on your qualifications. With experience and increased responsibilities you could be looking at anywhere up to £40,000 or more a year as your career progresses.
What qualifications do I need to get in?
You will often require a food-related degree as the preferred entry qualification for the job of product development technologist.
Of course, relevant science subjects such as chemistry and microbiology will also help.
You could also come up through the ranks. Possibly having started as a development assistant meaning you started after completing A-levels or a Further Education course – see separate Development Assistant page for details.
What about further training?
Postgraduate degrees are available in lots of different areas that will complement your role and enhance your career development.
You might also consider membership of a professional organisation such as the Institute of Food Science and Technology and this will be useful in a number of ways including networking opportunities, news of new developments, and demonstration of your commitment to your career through continuing professional development.
Anything else I might need to know?
Yes, it’s common for food technologists to move to other business areas where their specialist knowledge is be a real advantage.
Also, whilst larger companies offer more opportunity for cross-functional moves, small and medium-sized companies generally offer greater responsibility earlier and the chance to gain skills and experience across the range of business areas quickly.