Growing up, your dream job may have been to create ice cream flavors - because who wouldn't want to spend all day tasting and selecting their favorite frozen treat? The process that goes into creating the products that you put in your freezer is a bit more complicated than one might expect - especially when a company values the ingredients that their consumers are enjoying.
There are many elements that go into creating a successful product that ends up on the grocery shelves. SAMBAZON has a whole team of specialists to ensure that the product development process is successful, and each bite or sip of Açaí we create is bliss.
Luckily, we have two innovation and product development wizards on our team, who were more than happy to spill on their tricks to the trade. Our Vice President of Global Technical Services and Product Development, Sarah Nelson, and our Senior Director of Innovation and Commercialization, Manuela Johnson answer your most curious questions about product design below.
How do you determine what the next product SAMBAZON develops is?
Manuela - Consumers behavior, demand for new product formats, packaging and ingredients constantly evolve so we see the need to stay current with these needs. In addition, we evaluate our current product offerings to determine whether there are any gaps. If we see an opportunity to develop something novel and innovative that may better respond to these new consumer needs, we start exploring new formats, packaging, ingredients and claims.
How has the pandemic changed what SAMBAZON considers when developing a new product based on consumer behavior?
Manuela - Since Covid, more consumers have become more aware of how eating healthy foods impact their overall physical and mental wellbeing. As a result, we have been putting more focus on limiting the sugar content in our new formulations.
What is the process for finding and selecting ingredients outside of Açaí?
Sarah - All of our ingredients are certified organic, kosher, and vegan. We also have a rigorous food safety and quality approval process for all of our suppliers. The R&D and Sourcing teams are always on the look out for new ingredients and suppliers.
We look for the best tasting and most nutritious ingredients that we can find. Recently we launched our Mango Passionfruit Açaí Bowl. To find the best mango, we tasted over 5 different varieties and did testing in our lab to make sure we found the best one.
How many iterations are made of a product before it’s finalized for consumers?
Sarah - It varies quite a bit – sometimes we nail it right away and only do a couple rounds of development. Other times it can take 10 plus rounds of tasting before we perfect the formula.
There are many things to consider when we’re formulating - taste, texture, nutrition, cost, ability to manufacture, etc.
How do you decide on and measure taste when creating a new product?
Sarah - We do lots of internal tasting with our innovation team! We also bring in others from the office when we get close to the final formula.
Our final step is consumer testing. Sometimes we send consumers products to use in their homes so we can get feedback on how it fits into their lifestyle. Other times we bring consumers to a central location to get specific feedback on flavor, texture, and appearance. We then use this information to optimize the product before launch.
What goes into deciding how to make a product affordable and convenient?
Sarah - It’s a balancing act. There are many factors to consider when developing a new product. Taste is always #1. All of our products are delicious!
We also consider nutrition, cost, packaging, shelf-life, and ability to produce it in our manufacturing facilities. We taste products, perform nutritional analysis, conduct plant trials and shelf life tests before launch to make sure we’re delivering delicious, convenient products!
What is your favorite part of the innovation process?
Sarah - Tasting new flavors and ingredients. I love trying new things and experimenting with new product ideas!
Manuela - Translating consumer needs into tangible, successful product launches.
Our Product Development Team
We are so grateful to our team that brings our delicious Açaí products to market from the early stages of the product roadmap to market research, product concept, focus groups and beyond. Learn more about two of our SAMBAZON rockstars that answered your questions on the product development strategy below.
Vice President of Global Technical Services and Product Development
Sarah Nelson has a degree in Food Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She has always loved cooking, baking, and eating and working in the food industry is a perfect fit. Over her 20-year career she has worked in product development for a variety of brands and product types from rice to salad dressing to sauces to Açaí! SAMBAZON is an exciting place to work in product development because there is a great variety of different types of products to work on.
Senior Director of Innovation and Commercialization
Manuela Johnson was born in Italy and earned her Bachelor of Arts at Istituto Europeo di Design, Rome. For over 15 years, she has been actively working in the CPG Industry in Product Development and Marketing roles with a focus on Food & Beverage. As any good Italian, she is passionate about healthy whole foods and great nutrition. When at work she loves to strike a good balance between selecting novel and functional ingredients, innovative packaging formats and familiar flavors.