The science behind creating your ideal juice product requires precise, technical expertise, as well as creativity and skillful communication. Those three skills, chemistry prowess, imaginative innovation, and communication, shape the average day in the life of Research and Development at Northwest Naturals and result in the products you trust in your applications.
Northwest Naturals Research and Development (R&D) team consists of four people, one Product Development Manager, two Food Technologists, and one Sample Coordinator. Together they are the creative arm that handles product samples, custom blend creation, and product development, though individually, each role is distinct in the process. Let’s explore their average day.
Customers, brokers, and salespeople call in daily to request juice samples. The Sample Coordinator reviews those requests, then passes them on to the Product Development Manager, who assigns each one to a Food Technologist.
If a specific request allows us the opportunity to create a new juice blend or product, our team will send the customer a product development worksheet. This questionnaire informs the R&D team of what the customer wants. What is the desired flavor profile? What color should it be when mixed with alcohol or when creating a vinaigrette, BBQ sauce, etc.? Should it be clear or cloudy? Do you want one primary flavor with another muted in the background? Once we know that information, our technologists can create options that best fit the customer’s needs.
The Product Development Manager ensures that the team has access to all of the necessary ingredients to make the requested product. When a project requires additional resources outside of NWN’s scope, they will also ensure the proper connections are made in order to meet the demand. This is where communication with our partners (as well as customers) is the key to expanding our products and creating more custom blends. For example, if a customer requests a whisky sour, we can easily supply our delicious orange and lemon products. However, our Food Technologists must work with partners outside of Northwest Naturals to find a complementary whisky flavor before they can get to work.
Once our Food Technologists complete an approved sample, the Sample Coordinator sends it to the customer. The cycle continues until the customer is satisfied with their custom juice blend.
The turnaround time for this process depends on the project’s complexity, but our team will work with the customer’s deadlines and specs to ensure that everything produced lives up to their standards and is compliant with the Tax and Trade Bureau or specific regulations. Nothing makes us more excited than seeing a finished product on the shelves, and so we do our best to ensure its success!
Many might believe that the Research and Development Department at Northwest Naturals is densely scientific, with days full of meticulous calculations and watching beakers boil. Though our team is detail-oriented and expertly trained in the field, their jobs are much more robust. The team collaborates with customers. They get to taste their delicious samples, and they talk to so many other departments and partners to figure out what is needed to create that perfect product. A day in the life of the Northwest Naturals Research and Development Team is full of creativity, opportunities to think on your feet, and promise for new flavor discoveries.