That’s the most common question I’m asked when I tell people I am a Food Product Developer. Even my parents still ask me this question after almost 3 years!
But can I really blame them? Before I started actually working in the industry, I didn’t know what a Product Developer was either. I guess, subconsciously, I knew it was someone’s job to create all the food products I walked past in the grocery store, but I never considered doing it myself. I never even knew Food Science was offered in University until my second year!
Sooo… what DO I do?
As a product developer for Canada Bread Company Ltd., my job is to create new and improve existing products. This could involve anything from sourcing ingredients, to creating prototypes and commercializing them. I am responsible for developing new products in the “lab” (basically a fancy test kitchen) and deciding which are acceptable for market. Properties like taste, texture, cost, and relevance to consumers impact the decision of which products will actually be sold, and those 1-2 loaves in the lab quickly become 120 loaves per minute in the plant!
One thing I really love about my job: no two days are exactly the same. Sometimes I’m in my office – I might be answering emails, working on cost analyses, or doing research about current market trends. Sometimes I’m in the lab – baking prototypes, testing new ingredients, and (maybe a little too frequently) tasting the delicious result of all my hard work. Some days I work at head office and attend meetings with Marketing, Sales, or even suppliers to learn about new ingredients. Or some days I’m in the plant (occasionally at midnight), running a trial batch of a potential new product. I’m not going to lie, my job can be chaotic with crazy, random hours, but that’s what I like about it. It’s exciting and unique and that’s why I love it.
Sometimes I feel like I ended up in the Food Industry by accident. Which is actually really lucky because looking back, if I knew this kind of job was out there, I may have followed a very different path! Who knows where I could have ended up. If you’re a student in high school or university trying to figure out what to do – my advice is to learn about as many jobs as possible. Then decide where you want to go, and don’t be afraid to change your mind either, that’s totally ok!
One day people will be asking you, “so, what exactly do you do?” And that just means you’ll get to brag about how awesome your job is. Just like me.
By Morgan Genge
Product Developer, Canada Bread Ltd.