In our recent webinar with JPG Resources, we delved into the fascinating journey of product development, where we explored the process of transforming your cherished recipe formulations from the cozy confines of your kitchen and benchtop to a grand production scale. We dived deep into key topics, including:
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Jordan Buckner: [00:00:00] So welcome again, everyone to today's session on asking an expert talking about product development and taking your recipe formulations from kitchen and benchtop to production and scale. So I have two guests on the invite on today, Robin and George, both from JPG resources who work with emerging brands in the food and beverage space to take their products from concept to reality. Robin and George, welcome. I would love for you just to give a quick introduction to our audience. Robin, we can start with you just with a little bit of the type of work that you do.
Robin Puskas: Thank you so much. So excited to be here. And thank you for everyone who's dropped your information in the chat, keeping an eye on who we have in the audience and Very glad to be in the room together.
So I'm Robin Puskas. I work at JPG resources and the R and D vertical. I head up our R and D team out of Brooklyn. We have about a 70, some odd, maybe 75 folks who work at JPG altogether. And our team in Brooklyn is about [00:01:00] six. And that team really focuses on emerging businesses and businesses who are bringing.
Product to market the first time we're a mix of food scientists and people who have a culinary or nutrition dietetics background. My own background is culinary. I've worked in all different types of categories. Sauce is an area of focus for me, and I've been working in food product development for about the last 15 years.
Thanks for having us.
Jordan Buckner: Thanks, Robin and George.
George Squire: Thank you, Robin, for the lead and the background on JPG in general. I'm one of the technical leads at JPG. I've been with the company for 7 years at this point. My background is basically fortune 100. Big food companies, R and D departments, run R and D departments, run R and D teams.
And my specialization is in basically developing through commercialization of food products across multiple platforms. So, thank you very much for having me and pass it back to you, Jordan.
Jordan Buckner: Thanks so much Robin and George. So, let's get right into it to answer some of your questions. [00:02:00] So, 1st question that we got was from Veronica and Veronica and Spencer are here with the saucy bean and had a question on becoming shelf stable in the co man facility.
So, Veronica, would you like to come off a mute and ask your question to our panelists?
Veronica: Sure. Thanks so much for taking the time, you guys. It's really great to see you all here today. I'm here with my partner, Spencer. We run the Saucy Bean, and we're based in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Saucy Bean, it's a bean based stir fry sauce.
So it's a healthier alternative to the ones on the supermarket shelves, which are packed with salt and sugar. By using beans as a base, it gives us a little bit of extra protein, a little bit of extra fiber, and in just in general, it's a better base than, you know, corn starch or soy sauce or something like that.
So, yeah, my question is about. Moving to a co manufacturer and how that will affect the shelf stability, whether we need to start doing testing for our shelf stability[00:03:00] prior to moving to a co manufacturer, or if that's something a co manufacturer could help us with. Currently, we're just producing in a commercial space in sprouted pouches for packaging and just filling those ourselves and it's currently being sold as a refrigerated product. That being said, our PH suggests that it can be made to be shelf stable but the water activity is too high currently, but we haven't gone through any microbial testing or anything.
So if you have any insights or information regarding moving towards shelf stability, whether that seems feasible, Thank you all. Whether that's feasible to do ourselves at a commissary kitchen or if it's something that a co manufacturer will typically help us out with, any insights you have about that would be hugely appreciated.
Jordan Buckner: Thanks for that. And I'll also share just a quick look at your website so people can get a visual for the products as well. Oh, thank you.
George Squire: Well, there's a couple of approaches you can take. And what, if you don't mind me asking, what is your current pH?
Veronica: The current pH is, I believe, Spencer, do you have it off hand there?
George Squire: Okay. [00:04:00] You're in the ballpark to be shelf stable. Okay. In the States, it's below 4. 6, but the 1 thing that you need to be aware of is the pH can creep over time. So it does tend to move. I've seen it move in multiple food products. So you want to be. In internal guidelines, please keep it below that 4.
Jordan Buckner: 4 at or below 4. 4. If you've got a quality product at that point, I think you're pretty much can find a way there with, especially in a pouch is your pouch. He's stable. Are you able to process in the pouch?
Veronica: We currently feel heated. It's filled. I believe around 60 degrees Celsius. I'd have to maybe Spencer has the conversion for that.
No, it's pretty hot. It's quite hot. Somebody ask your phone.
George Squire: So I think this is you with the right equipment, you can get something that's going to be at least a 12 month shelf life. Okay, great. You can, you can get there what I would recommend and unfortunately, I will beg forgiveness. I do not know what the Canadian regulations are, but most [00:05:00] agricultural universities have or analytical laboratories have what they call a process authority in the States.
Okay, the process authority is an entity that will take the responsibility from you. With regards to determining what is needed to be shelf stable as a impartial third party. Okay. Okay. Most in this, I have to put the caveat on all the time in the States. Most food processors who do your type of work have a process authority on call.
Okay, it could be somebody in Texas or Minnesota or Wisconsin or wherever. But that person dictates what is necessary for you to have a safe product. And I highly recommend leverage somebody like that, an independent third party, because it buffers you on liability a little bit. Absolutely. Okay.
And it buffers the co man as well. So they're going to be all over this with you. So, I think if you actually did, you could even do this with an aseptic fill at this pH and have pretty much a bulletproof product. Pretty and I'm saying that without knowing all the facts. Okay. I must say, I must say, I do not have all the facts, but you are in the territory with that pH to [00:06:00] be, you know, have something pretty good to 9 to 12 months shelf life.
So, okay, leverage the process authority and also keep in mind the process authority is going to tell you what's safe. She is not going to tell you what's good. Right? All right. You have to run your product through some sort of sensory panel. Across that shelf life, it may not kill somebody, but it may not taste good.
Veronica: Right. Okay. That makes perfect sense. Robin, please follow on with that. Yeah. Thanks, George.
Robin Puskas: I mean, also perfect to answer like reading my mind for sure on all points there. You know, the process authority is going to be a good advantage for you to to follow on with the other part of your question, which is around the role of the manufacturer in reaching a shelf stable product.
I think this applies to you and probably several other people who are here with their own questions. And, you know, the sort of core question there is to what degree is the manufacturer. Manufacturer going to step in and do that work alongside you and to what degree do they expect you to bring answers when you are approaching them looking to have a manufacturing relationship with them, and we were talking about this directly before the panel as well the [00:07:00] manufacturing landscape is extremely constrained, even still.
So it is a market where the more bugged up you are, and the more you are able to bring all of the information complete to the manufacturer, the more leverage you'll have and building that relationship and having them opt to sign you on. So, you know, very strongly seconding George's suggestion of, working with a process authority. Also, I would suggest shopping around. There are a couple of different types of approaches and some process authorities are more conservative than others university process authorities tend to be very, very conservative, but they're also less expensive. So that's kind of the push pull there.
So they're going to give you very high temperatures and very low pH. And then you have to sort of evaluate, is it still your product after those adjustments are made, or are those tolerances? Too tight. And so then you wanted to maybe hire someone who's going to work with you directly. It might cost more, but they're going to do a little bit more nuanced work with you.
Veronica: For sure. Okay. That makes a lot of sense. Thank you so much, Spencer. Do you have [00:08:00] any further questions about that?
Spencer: No, I think it's really great to kind of get an idea that there's these third parties that can help us and to see a little bit of the landscape of what that looks like going forward. So I really appreciate both your answers.
Thanks so much.
Robin Puskas: Thank you too.
Jordan Buckner: Thanks. Great question. The great answers and then also George and Robin to make themselves available after the session as well via email. If you have any other follow up questions or want to dive a little bit deeper into any specific issues.
Okay, I know Robin mentioned it a little bit as well, but George as well.
So when you're reaching out to manufacturers, what are some of the things that you can do to really stand out to make sure that you have a good opportunity to. Get into a plan to do a line test or to start manufacturing.
Robin Puskas: As part of my earlier work before I joined J. P. G. I had worked with several manufacturers. As sort of the onboarding person for potential manufacturing partners, so I have kind of been on both sides of the [00:09:00] desk on that question. And when I was doing that work, it was already pretty constrained. And now, as we were discussing before, it's quite constrained.
So you really do need to bring your A game when you're having those conversations with manufacturers and understand that when you're approaching them you really are in a position where you need them more than they need you. So that's unfortunately the starting point, but it's, if you understand that and come in with that approach, it's very helpful.
You know, having a nailed down formulation that will translate to a manufacturing process is very appealing. Understanding, you know, communicating that you understand the manufacturing process that that Manufacturing plant can do is very useful. Having clear projections, understanding how much product you want to make currently and how much into the future.
The sort of worst case for co manufacturer looking at bringing on potential new clients is a very complicated product that with. Low initial order quantity and huge line of question marks about whether they'll ever come back. So that's sort of the thing that you [00:10:00] want to not cue when you're coming in and having those conversations that it's producible, that you know how much you need and that you're going to be a repeat customer is kind of a good set of cues.
George, I know that you had some thoughts also about how folks have successfully approached manufacturers.
George Squire: Yes, I guess one of the, you know, we work with people who are entrepreneurs all the way to large food companies, and it's always a challenge for entrepreneurs to get into a co manufacturer simply due to the lower high MOQs you know, lower volumes on their side, at least in your one day or two.
These are normal and regardless of the food platform, it's always a challenge. Some of the ways that I've seen entrepreneurs be very successful is to approach it similar to an elevator pitch for funding. Okay, if you're trying to get someone's attention and get someone interested in your product to fund you, it is basically the same situation for enough in order to get into a co manufacturer.
You need to get them interested and excited about your product. So, instead of a 30 2nd elevator pitch or a 3 minute elevator pitch, you're going to have to. Present a business [00:11:00] model. And an individual that they can believe in. Okay they get to pick and choose who comes in their door.
I have seen an individual who just absolutely blew blew me away. He was a great client. He was a great guy period. And he generated a cult of personality about himself when he walked into a co manufacturer because. They weren't quite sure whether they, and this, he was in the beverage category.
All right. The beverage platform is one of the most competitive platforms and expensive platforms to ever launch product period. They turn on a beverage plan and you better be able to move 30, 000 gallons inside of 4 months. Otherwise, they're not going to take you. So when he walked in there, he literally persuaded them on the value of the product.
He presented the product that we had developed for him. Then talk to them about how he was going to sell this product and he talked about it with excitement. We talked about it with passion and he talked about it with conviction and he shared his business plan. He was hitting what his funding was all the way through and lo and behold, I mean, the people who said no, they actually took him on and , they gave him a run for it, you know, and it's they supported him.
They were a great [00:12:00] partner together. So, you know, it is a very similar situation, you know, show the passion, create the energy with the comment on why they should take you on board. It just makes all the difference. I've seen it make all the difference. If you go in there and you're not excited, well, don't expect them to be.
Jordan Buckner: No, that's a very good point. George. I want to talk a little bit about what it takes creating a product that you're maybe making a commissary kitchen or you're starting out making at home and getting that , to scale. And I can share a little bit of a story that I had launching my previous brand T easquares
We are making a, you know, tea infused energy snack, but just imagine it's made out of puffed millet, but it's like a puffed rice snack that also had things like tea in there is bound with brown rice syrup. , and making that product, we started off using kind of molds in our commercial kitchen and thought that we'd be able to go out and find any manufacturer to make it for us because we were very new to this and came to find out that a year in after we were already selling at Whole Foods, Very few manufacturers even had equipment that could make the product.
[00:13:00] And those that did, I think it would have cost us at least 75, 000 dollars to create custom molds, like, just for our product to do. So, and it really kind of brought to light . The rigidity, I think, , of some manufacturers and the equipment out there and how you really have to understand what equipment exists for your type of product, even at the beginning, before you start manufacturing that.
And so, George and Robin, I don't know if you have any thoughts, like, I mean, you're developing products, like, how do you think about the existing equipment that's out there and how that determines the types of products that you can even create?
George Squire: That's an age old product developer's nightmare. Because you're always asked to do something new and innovative, but do it all on the same old equipment. And by definition of innovation, that's not how it works. If you want to do something that's truly innovative, that means it hasn't been done before. It's not on the market currently.
Therefore, nobody is making that product. Therefore, nobody has the equipment to make that product. So, what you get into is a situation is, well, how close can you get me? So, you have to start moving towards the compromise. Unless you're heavily funded, And you're willing to lay down a [00:14:00] half a million dollars for the right piece of equipment or develop the right piece of equipment and then fund the fabrication of that and testing that equipment.
So, you get into the compromise. How close can I get? And I often say is, you know, if the bench recipe or the kitchen recipe, if you're going to able to commercialize 70 to 80 percent of that product by your end of your scale, if you're willing Doing pretty good. Because no one's going to be able to make product in a commercial setting as pretty as a true trained chef their hand skills and their talent far outpaces any piece of equipment in any food plant.
So again, if you have to end up making some compromises, but you have to make the right compromises. You know what doesn't take away from the brand equity? What doesn't take away from your message to the consumer? What doesn't take away from much from the eating experience that you're trying to present to the client?
We often see clients that , they don't want to give on any of this and then they find out that their P and L is, is completely blown by the end of the day. You need to use real commercial raw materials, because if you're going out and you're purchasing your raw materials [00:15:00] at a Whole Foods or something, that's a far higher level of quality than you're going to be able to get in a commercial setting when you're ordering, you know, 5, 000 pounds a shot from some commercial vendor or broker.
So you have to walk in knowing where you're going to end up. Or where you must end up but again, you have to have your cost targets at day 1. You have to know what you can sell your product for. And the P and L is going to tell you where you have to go to have a viable business.
You have to determine whether that's where you want to be. When you launch your product. Robin, please. I know you'd like to chime in.
Robin Puskas: No, that's 100 percent my experience as well. And when you are moving from a commercial kitchen or small scale manufacturing without a lot of handwork, have seen businesses be very successful when they're really laser focused on what are the critical pieces that we must preserve.
So Compromises are needed, obviously, in order to make more of anything, but the most successful scale ups will have either. As a small number of hero ingredients that are bringing [00:16:00] something that is a point of differentiation that really drives the flavor experience that's different from what else is on market.
And , the key is to not get too precious about every tiny detail, but to really select the things that are the drivers of the identity of what you're making plant your flag there and then be infinitely flexible. And, you know, intelligent in the ways that you can strip away cost and complexity in the areas that aren't the hero.
So, I think that's really well stated, George, that having the P& L tell you the truth. You don't want to arrive at the truth when you've been selling product for 24 months. But it does happen. , the way to avoid that, like, 24 month mark heartache is to, you know, let the P& L tell you the truth at every step of the way, so that you are planning.
To make something that you can sell at a profit.
Jordan Buckner: So Robin, people are coming to you with recipes all the time in your team. Yeah. How often are you having to change those recipes a lot versus being able to stick to the core? And I ask because I've seen some [00:17:00] products that I know and from founders where like when they're made at home, it was like absolutely delicious and great texture.
By the time it came off the line, it was, as George mentioned, maybe like 70%, 60 percent is good, unfortunately. And so how are you able to kind of balance that transition from culinary delight to commercial product?
Robin Puskas: You know, that's a really good question, and I'm going to start with a sort of simplistic approach and then back into the weights that complexity is, of course, part of it, but in the same one of the ways in which.
Commercial manufacturing is identical to home cooking or restaurant cooking is if you put in good ingredients and your process is good. What comes out is also going to be good. And that's how we make things that are nice is good inputs and good process. So the degree to which the product can really match what you're making at small scale has a lot to do with.
How closely the process and the inputs you're using can be [00:18:00] replicated at scale. So, you know, I mentioned my background is in sauce. One of the products that I've been, you know, very involved in made millions of pounds of is Rayo's pasta sauce. And that is a good example of a thing that you can make how your mama made it at scale because the process and the inputs are a match with caveats.
So like in this case having to apply heat because you need to have a kill step in your manufacturing corresponds really nicely with the way that you're going to want to cook your ingredients to a certain bricks because they and the flavors marry. So they're nicely aligned. And then also we imported, you know, millions of pounds of whole peeled plum tomatoes from Italy.
That's also a product that is in a sort of created a pretty premium category and costs three times what the industry leader did when it came on market. Not every product is going to be able to take that leeway. And also it evolved over time. I mean, Basically invented a huge can opener, but just like took the number 10 cans [00:19:00] and just punched out the top of them over and over after a period of time of, you know, like a person with a With a hand screw.
So it's a combination of initial alignment and then dedication to growing over time. Some things are a mismatch and they're going to be much further apart, you know, like a fresh baked brownie that you want to be shelf stable for four months. The drift is going to be enormous because , the processes and inputs are not as compatible.
Jordan Buckner: No, I think that's amazing. I mean, one thing just piggyback off of that, that I wish I learned, I now advise companies with is. Understand the number of processes that are used within your product category to manufacture and then instead of testing at the manufacturer to figure out how it's made, you can do your testing in your own environment or with a food scientist to say, okay, now that we have these parameters, how can we replicate at the smaller scale, get the product tasting amazing and then move it to the larger scale versus having the force fit because In the example with [00:20:00] Teasquares, when I was running it, it required a mold, think like a cookie mold or cupcake mold or something.
And we tried to do it on a slab line. And what happened is we ran 15, 000 worth of ingredients on a test and all of it had to be thrown away because it didn't have the proper compression because the product wasn't made in that way. Versus if we could make our product using a rolling pan and rolling it out and it works, then there's a higher chance that it would have worked on that slab line, which is essentially a large rolling pin.
George Squire: Yeah. One of the things that just float out there since we're talking a little bit about equipment is when you're working in your home kitchen or even in a pilot bed or something like that, you need to be cognizant about I hate to say this, but algebra, geometry. And the term work. Think of your the standard home KitchenAid mixer.
All right. It's a planetary mixer, which means it's got a paddle or a pigtail that goes around and around in a bowl. Now, the circumference of that ball, we'll just say, hypothetically, is maybe 10 inches. Okay. And that paddle is going around and we'll just say [00:21:00] 5 RPM. Then when you go into your scale up at the manufacturing facility, you're walking up to, we'll just say a planetary mixer again that planetary mixer, the bowls, three feet across.
Well, if you say that I want that mix at 20 RPM for five minutes in my home KitchenAid, then you walk in there and you say, I want to mix for 20 minutes at five RPM in this large four foot diameter, super KitchenAid, Hobart, whatever you want to call it. Just be aware that. You're creating far more work in the larger piece of equipment than the smaller.
If we think about the distance that has to paddle has to travel, you've gone from a 10 inch diameter to a 4 foot diameter. And that pedals going all the way around that 4 foot diameter at the same RPM is that little paddle in the little you're creating a tremendous amount more work. On your food product in that mixer, when you scale it up tremendous amount more work, you may not get the same texture out of it.
So this is where when you walk into food processing equipment, you need to be aware that the equipment is going to be different. The time is going to be different. The temperature is probably going to be different. It might be [00:22:00] different, might need to be different. The RPMs, how much you mix, how it could be more, it could be less.
Often it's going to be a little bit less. But it all depends on the design and how fast, how well things incorporate or blend or cream. So there are a lot of challenges when you go into your 1st commercialization , at a co man or your 2nd or your 3rd. That's why you have to be aware of walking into these situations is the 1st, 1 may not work.
To your point, you may have 15, 000 worth of ingredients that are just going to go. Into the garbage. So this is where the communication up front with your co man. You set up your plant trial and your tests. Most co men won't take you in the door unless they run a trial on your equipment anyways.
So, you have to be aware that, you know, say he wants to run a. Or she wants to run a 500 pound trial or a 5000 pound trial. You have to have enough raw materials there you know, , it's not uncommon that some forklift driver is going to put the forks right through your. 50 pound bags of flour.
It happens every day. So you have to plan a little bit on the Murphy effect and say well, I might need two times the moro amount of raw materials. , I [00:23:00] truly think I'm gonna need to be there just in case., whenever you do , your planned trials or your startups, they're the most expensive if you will ever run in your life.
The cost per bar, or per bottle, or per jog or per pouch , is ridiculous. But you need to do that pre-work and the co-man needs to do that pre-work. Validate all the assumptions, because that plant test at the co man is going to tell him what he's going to be charging you in total.
Jordan Buckner: I love that. And just 1 thing I learned is for plant tests, never expect that you will have that product to sell after expected. It won't be usable. And then if it is, it's a nice to have planned for the plan for the worst and hope for the best. And enjoy a quick question on equipment since we're talking about that is.
For those who maybe thinking about using a manufacturer, how flexible are the equipment, is the equipment typically at a manufacturer versus how static is that equipment in terms of what it can do?
George Squire: Most of the time, these production lines are set up to run like crazy, whatever they're running now.
Okay. There's some degree of flexibility, such as if you're running a bar, [00:24:00] there's some degrees of flexibility on width and length simply because it's a team and spacing on your cutting wheels. Okay. When it comes to, you know, canning or putting into pouches, your times and your temperatures and your line speed are usually plus or minus 20 percent of whatever they're doing.
Now, you can kind of hope for where things get more challenging is on the packaging line. Don't fall in love with a package. Don't fall in love with this wonderful bottle out of southern Italy made by some guy in his family. Please don't because odds are no one's going to be able to run that bottle in the States.
And the only way they're running that bottle in southern Italy is because grandma's pouring it in there, but 1 by 1 by hand packaging lines are notoriously expensive. To retool it's not uncommon for 100, 000 dollars to retool a pack 1 packing line on in a plant. And nobody wants to do it because it means the line is going to be down for probably 4 to 6 hours while they try to swap out all the parts.
All of that gets converted into tolling charges for you.
Robin Puskas: Yeah, I think that the tolling charge piece aspect of it is like, that's [00:25:00] very. Critical as well. When you're starting a relationship with a manufacturer, especially, I think that the amount of flexibility on how the equipment is used is very low.
It can change over time. If you're already a good client of a manufacturer, you've been working together for a long time. You have a new product or a new category that that you're exploring. There's more openness in that scenario to pressing a piece of existing equipment into service in a different way.
I've had experience where we were using a piece of equipment that was meant to emulsify things, but we used it as a liquefier. It wasn't supposed to do that. But if you ran it for long enough, eventually get us where we needed to go. But it was for a client that was already doing, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of business with us.
And it was an experiment that we had the downtime on the line and we could try it. So it's not never, but you're not going to probably be able to come in the door with requests To use equipment in ways that it's not already being used. [00:26:00] I love that.
George Squire: That's a great point because, you know, that gets back to relationships.
What gets you in the door can help carry you through. It's so very important. You know, , it's like trying to find a good dance partner. You know, somebody who's going to work with you, sometimes let you lead. It's really, really important to find somebody who's willing to grow with you. You will.
The best case scenario to come in already knows is that you're going to outgrow them. Okay, and you'll go to , somebody who's going to handle larger volumes and help you grow to the next level. And then the next level, and it's not uncommon to go through multiple commands and the life of a product.
So, you know, Robin's right on the mark, you know, there's a certain point where, you know, you've got enough sway with a co man. To do something new. It's not operations. People are just, , they're pounds out the door. You know, their metrics, their performance metrics are all about, how did I meet my orders?
You know, how many pounds did I get out the door? That's how they're measured, and if you understand that going into the conversation, you can actually. Develop a rapport and a relationship that can pay out over long term.
Jordan Buckner: Great insight, George. All right, next up we have Hannah Roberts who has a [00:27:00] question.
Hannah, do you want to come off of mute and ask your question?
Hannah Roberts: Thank you so much. I'm dialing in from the UK from London. So just picking up on , your maths example, going from KitchenAid to the larger scale diameter and you talked about work done and you know, clearly the physics, you know wanted to ask what are some general truths, assuming all of that variability, like what are some sort of general truths from your expertise that there'll be sort of complexity and variation with how the product is made once you start doing it in a greater scale. So there's problems to solve. But like, how do you separate something that's just like a physics and engineering problem, sort of not hard science, just like a, equipment and engineering problem versus.
Something that's just not solvable, , like stuff that just does not work. If that makes sense. , some general truths there before experimenting, you know or have you ever come across anything that just doesn't work no matter how much engineering you apply to the problem for whatever reason, like , what type of products haven't [00:28:00] scaled.
George Squire: Well, there's always situations where it's just not going to work. , I'm being 100 percent honest with you. We do get asked many times to sell a 10 bill for 5, you know, and it's just the impossible. Ask , the thing that I always go back to is, well, what is the root of what the ask is, you know what is it you're trying to solve?
And if I can't do it this way, maybe I can just pivot. And take a step back and approach it from another angle.
Hannah Roberts: Yeah, no, sorry. So when you say 10 bill, is it to do with the ingredients or is it a part of the process is too intensive or I'm just trying to, you know, preempt the ignorance I have, you know.
George Squire: It's a very broad question. Anna, it's a very, very broad question. I've had a lot of issues where technically things can't be done. Financially, things can't be done. And there are many instances where there is an engineering solve to problems. But either financially or politically, companies are unwilling to do so.
So if you could be a little more specific in your ask, it would be [00:29:00] more helpful.
Hannah Roberts: Okay, so yeah, what I mean is like, does it is it because it requires going to too high of a temperature? Or is it because you can't source the ingredients in certain quantity? Or , where is the point of failure?
So the financial, I get, just to to help clarify, I think maybe I have a different, so you're kind of wondering like, what are the key reasons that products fail to work in a manufacturing facility? Those kind of, yeah. So aside from sort of financial, resource. So like, you know they don't have enough money to buy the right equipment or, you know, Putting those failure points aside, what are more than the engineering points of failure, whereby even if you had all the money in the world and, you know, it's like, it's not going to work
George Squire: Hannah, there's a lot of instances where the, you have to control the formula so tightly in its processing. Okay. The normal deviation of the manufacturing process causes it to fail the sweet spot.
If you're dealing with hydrocolloids or you're dealing with reducing sugars, [00:30:00] things like this, where you may have to have a very narrow operating window on your on your process that the equipment can't attain. This happens quite often where you can make a product and it seems like it's not a problem on the bench.
You can produce a day in a day out all day long on the bench, and it's not even a finesse product where a food scientist might struggle how to chef could run circles through it. The problem is the equipment can't maintain the tolerance and I have seen this many, many times where basically, if you set up an operating window.
For a manufacturing facility saying you need to be between this number and this number. And play in that window, but then you run the line and you do a statistical analysis of that line and determine what the actual tolerance of the manufacturing processes and the 1 standard deviation or 2 standard deviations.
Is not attainable in the window that , you're providing to operations. Okay. Usually what operations likes to see by operations or a manufacturing facility likes to see is to stand a window of 2 standard deviations on all [00:31:00] the key quality control points. Okay, that gives them a very wide operating window.
That's 90. I can't remember. I'm not a statistician. 90 some percent of all product will pass through that window. Statistically that is from an operational performance. That's not from a quality performance. Your quality window may either from your own desires or through a marketing desire or a sales desire may be far more narrow than that.
And that's just 1 of those situations where the equipment can't do what you're asking it to do. And that happens a lot. When it comes to manufacturing equipment, such as, okay, a kettle or an icer or something like that, usually those pieces of equipment can be reprogrammed or modified a different gear change out to change the line speed appropriately.
If you're icing isn't going on the way you like it to, you can resprocket or redrive your conveyors and get the degree of separation of your product. So you can actually apply. Your topical icings or sprinkles or whatever. You can do that. It's an engineering [00:32:00] fix. Co manufacturers may not want to because it's going to change it from every other product that's on that line.
So there's a lot of factors that did cause things to fail. And that's why I mentioned earlier on. Some of them are simply political internal decisions that they just don't want to do it. You will hear pushback. You will hear pushback even on your raw materials from a, from a co man, I don't want to get in another oregano.
I already have an oregano. I don't want another oregano. Use my oregano. I get a better price than you do. Anyways, you will hear that all the time. Whenever you go to a comment, especially for the 1st time sometimes they're right that's the easiest fix and you have to choose your battles.
You know, I might have to add 10 percent more oregano to get the impact that I want since , I'm going to be using a slightly. Lower volatile oil oregano. So, I mean, those are my thoughts. I'm hoping I'm addressing your question.
Hannah Roberts: Yeah, no, with any example. So, would you like cakes and desserts?
Like these engineering failures, you know,
Jordan Buckner: and I think it can happen across all of them and everything. Yeah. Okay. Because I, there's an ice cream brand and I [00:33:00] know that tried running a high protein ice cream through their line of manufacture and the mixture was too thick and it clogged up their line.
And that manufacturer basically said, get out of my facility because you just screwed up all my equipment. Now we have to spend six hours cleaning it all up. Yeah.
George Squire: And then there's, I mean , I had a situation a few years back where I was screening protein sources from around the world, different innovative protein sources.
And I was doing some twin screw extrusion work on puff stacks and inclusions for cereals and granola bars. And in screening , those raw materials, I go from one protein. Source. I go to a soy protein, a chickpea protein, a olive bean protein. I go to half a dozen others, and then I come to a certain particular protein that I'm not gonna name, but it immediately sees the entire extruder.
Boom. Done. 1st, 15 seconds of the run, we literally have to get pneumatic winches and pull the whole thing apart and clean the unit. If I had taken that to a production facility had done that, I would have had a very unhappy production facility. Thankfully, I was in a pilot facility.
This is where[00:34:00] and I think in chat, there was some talk about pilot facilities in the chat there. This is where it's really helpful to go from your bench to maybe a pilot facility before you commit. Jordan 15, 000 runs at a co man just to make sure we at JPG strongly encouraged. Let's take a baby step before we go all in.
Yeah, I think Hannah, thanks so much for that question. George, to continue on that to answer Tony's question what types of pilot facilities exist and. Are they open to brands? And I know you don't work exactly with this. I mean, Robin has some thoughts too, but like, what are those types of facilities?
Universities, I know, have some food science programs. Are there other just like smaller commands that generally do pilot runs? What have you kind of found? Robin, would you like to take this one to start off?
Robin Puskas: So a fair number of universities do have pilot plans and they vary extremely widely in terms of what equipment they have, what's their area of expertise, and then also what types of certifications they have.
You know, I know our team has done a lot of work at MSU, [00:35:00] which I believe is actually a SQF certified facility, which means you can sell product out of that. That facility. You know, being in the state of New York, we've done more work on our team with Cornell and we have launched product out of a pilot facility in the past.
There are, of course, pros and cons. As George mentioned, being able to take a baby step is a big deal. It depends a little bit. How much you need the pilot plan on a couple of factors. One is the novelty of your product, right? So if you're doing something that either has a fairly novel process or ingredients that are relatively new to the commercial ingredient market, then the pilot plant is an area where you can fail small instead of failing big.
So it's very useful there. Also, often The pilot plan is staffed by very technical folks who are also university professors and have deep science knowledge. And so [00:36:00] the bench is often deep in terms of how much support you can get. It's different than The type of support that you get in a co manufacturing setting, which is mostly focused on throughput there.
It's more experimentation. There's more play. You will make a run where every bar cost you 15 dollars. So if you think that you're going to go into a pilot plant produce. Product and then use that as your profit making venture that's unlikely to come true. It's a stage in the development of your business, not a place to land and operate from yeah, and then whether or not you can sell the product does depend on the certification.
So in some cases, it's a large run for you know, tastemakers and investors and these types of uses. From the consumer's perspective. S buyers samples, but you can't sell. So you know how much you produce is dependent upon what you can do with the output.
George Squire: Yeah, and I just to build on what Robin said, she's straight on your 1st question is do you need to sell the product?
If you do need to sell the product, your options [00:37:00] are extremely limited. I believe Rutgers might have a facility to do that. I believe Michigan State has a facility to do that. I don't know about too many others. We have used multiple depending on our clients needs and what the process is. We have used multiple universities.
As intermediates there's too many food platforms in this world for JPG to have all the right equipment to do all the right things for all these different food platforms just doesn't exist. So. We leverage outside partners, you can sometimes go to equipment vendors for testing. You can sometimes go to the universities, more often the universities.
Now, keep in mind that a lot of these people may have a portion of the process, not the complete process. They may not have packaging equipment that fits what you're trying to do. They may have a retort, but maybe not the rest of the packaging line. So, you want to do an overwrap or something like that.
They may not have that. They may, they may not. So you have to figure out what are the key drivers are going to this plant trial or to , this pilot facility. List out what you're trying to test and make sure that they've got everything necessary to do it. Do not assume a university [00:38:00] is going to have the necessary packaging film for you.
They may have the equipment, but you may need to order the packaging of material or the film or the structure to put inside the equipment to run it. There's a lot of things to look at and then lead times on packaging and lead times on equipment and all these other things come into play that aren't even involved with, I mean, the product you know, it's, if you need to order a custom piece of equipment, it could be eight to 16 months before you can get a custom piece of equipment fabricated for your run.
Depending on the, how complex the equipment is, if it's simply a dye, you can probably get it fabricated out of delrin . Or something like that, and it'll work fine for the trial, but it'll probably wear out inside of 2 weeks. But it's good enough for the trial. It'll tell you if it's going to work, and then you can maybe get a bronze 1 or a stainless steel with a Teflon coating made up or something like that.
It all depends on what you're trying to do. So, when you go from the bench to a scale up facility, or where you go to the pilot plant or pilot facility, and then you go to scale up, you have to think far enough ahead. Most of the time , the clients we work with and the founders, they're not aware of how long the [00:39:00] rest of this stuff takes.
You know, we might be able to jump through hoops and come up with, you know, some fabulous stuff for you. You might come up with all the fabulous stuff yourself. But then when you think about, okay, I need 8 to 12 weeks lead time on my packaging after my final artwork is done. I need to get that in the mix.
And that has to be locked down after I've done the trial and confirm what my net weights are going to be for my 6 count or 8 count or 12 count. And then I've got to get the corrugate ready. And the corrugate has to fit whatever those final bags are. And it takes a lot of time to put all that together, and it takes people with a lot of knowledge to put that together, because let's face it, no one's an expert on everything.
It's just a build out a really good timeline, you know, and just work backwards from there, because it's going to tell you, you know, if you want to be in the market, we'll just say January 1 pretty much by this time in September, you've already missed the deadline. So, right now, the best you can possibly hope for is maybe a June or whatever the next reset is going to be for you.
Or maybe the next go for the following year.
Jordan Buckner: Excellent. So we're just coming into the end here. Thanks so much for [00:40:00] everyone for all their questions. I want to end with any closing thoughts. Maybe Robin, you can share 1st on any key learnings or takeaways that you want to make sure. Founders are leaving here with as they're thinking about maybe some of the top issues that come up or the things that founders really consider.
Robin Puskas: Yeah, that's a great question. I think that sort of an overarching approach that I see as successful over and again is understanding where to really dig in and protect the identity of the thing you're trying to make and where to be sort of ruthlessly flexible. And so that's, I think, deeply understanding the core of what you're trying to make and where you need to make compromises versus where you need to hold the line is where it's at for making a scaled product that is as you imagined it , from the start.
And there's no substitute for good materials and good process. That's how we're making our food come true.
Jordan Buckner: I love that, Robin. Robin, would you [00:41:00] say that taste is something that founders probably shouldn't compromise on in the beginning, or in some instances they do compromise on taste?
George Squire: I think that we should never compromise on taste.
Honestly, even consumers who are driven by macros for trial, they are repurchasing on taste. If you didn't enjoy it, you're not really going to come back to it. So the good news is that my experience is that founders don't tend to compromise on taste. They tend to have like a very clear vision that it should taste a certain way and stick to that.
And I think that in that approach, , they're dead on in their commitments.
Jordan Buckner: Yeah. I like that. Never compromise on taste. I'm a big advocate of that. George, any closing thoughts?
George Squire: Sure, I guess the 1 thing I think is important, I think it partners up with what Robin said is you actually founders as a whole, have to have to drive.
Okay. They have to, that's the nature of being a founder is you have a passion. You have a drive. You have a vision. Hold on to it, but you have to also remember to listen. Okay, when a co man gives you a little pushback, listen and try to understand why.
If you just have drive and don't [00:42:00] listen to when people do try to help you something can go wrong. We have had people not listen to when we say things to may need to be pasteurized. And some other things, and we have seen these clients go on and, you know, have full recalls.
They weren't actually clients at the time they decided to go in a different path, but. There are people who actually will try to help you in this world. Listen to your vendors, your ingredient vendors, leverage your vendors, leverage the knowledge around you. They are all tools. Your co man is a tool.
If you deal with a sales rep from another company, they're a tool. Listen and leverage all those tools. It will maximize your chances of success.
Jordan Buckner: George, Robin, thank you so much for joining today. Thank you so much for all of our audience and for your questions. Those were very great. I did share George and Robin's email address in the chat, so they are open if you have any follow up questions to reach out to them directly.
I'll send it in the follow up email as well. I just reposted those two. So thanks so much, everyone. Have a great rest of your Monday and have a great week ahead.