The New Product
Development Playbook

CPG companies need to review their NPD process with technology and agility
Written by Johan Langenbick - 21.09.2022

Uncertainty drives Agility

CPG players are facing unprecedented levels of disruption, driven by market uncertainty, rapidly changing consumer needs, government regulations and increased competition from nimble niche players.

So, how does one innovate and develop new products in such a volatile market context? Certainly not through a stage-gate process! With its origins in the ‘70’s, this approach has become outdated and ineffective in today’s fast-paced business environment.

At Foodpairing, we have witnessed corporations reimagining their development processes with speed and agility in mind. And technology is enabling that.

Sandeep Dadlani, Former Chief Digital Officer – Mars, commented on the current situation in an interview with Forbes: “We are today faced with 5 I’s across the world- inflation, invasion, infection, inventory (which is supply chain) and interest rates. When we look at these 5 challenges we are literally pointing our AI super-powers towards those 5 I’s”

We have a progressive view on how to organize and build an agile and fast development process. In this text, I’ll guide you through the main principles.

Food is software

At Foodpairing, we consider food as software. Software is never finished. It’s continuously updated and upgraded in small iterations that consist of 3 major steps.

Plan > Develop > Deliver & Operate.


In the plan phase, R&D teams ideate, define, and describe requirements of the food applications they are developing. They get insights from various sources and make portfolio and strategy decisions.


The develop phase includes all aspects of concept, validation and formulation development. The teams seek to innovate rapidly without sacrificing quality of the foods. To do that, they use highly productive tools, automate mundane and manual steps, and iterate in small increments through automated testing, simulations and digital twins.

Deliver & Operate.

Delivery is the process of deploying the foods into production. Ideally into e-commerce channels so the digital traces and data on the performance can be tracked. The operations involve activation, monitoring and feeding the product performance data back into the Plan phase.

Every cycle should be short and ideally fully digital.

More on that later.

New Product Development flow

Seamless data flow by merging R&D and marketing

R&D and marketing teams currently work in silos. Although digital collaboration tools are abundant, still we see R&D and marketing working on different islands.

This is not an optimal approach. To execute a fast and agile NPD process, R&D and marketing should operate as a compound. The data generated from marketing should flow seamlessly into R&D, pollinating new product development as depicted in the infinity loop.

The NPD infinity loop is the union of people, process, and technology to continually provide value to customers.

Customer centricity through digital twins

Now you need to bring in the customer into the middle of the development process.

Customer co-creation, testing panels and consumer validation are time-consuming and costly. Surely, there must be a better way to become truly customer centric? We believe there is.

At Foodpairing we have proven speed and agility can be achieved through a digital twin of your target consumer. This digital twin will enable the validation of millions of concepts and product improvements in a fraction of time compared to traditional product development. It truly places the (digital) consumer at the heart of the NPD process.



Enterprise metaverse for NPD

The Metaverse is changing product development by giving R&D teams the autonomy to create products that have never existed before. It will enable us to simulate experiences in the virtual world before moving into the physical world. I think the enterprise metaverse is where simulation and reality meet.

Data created in simulation leads to new product development in the real world. Data created in the real world flows back into the simulation.

Bring it to life _ part I

Real-life example on Insights & portfolio strategy

Let’s bring these ideas into reality. As a food producer I face the reality of limited shelf space in retail. I get room for 3 products so I need to choose the best options from my portfolio to generate the largest reach possible. A TURF exercise is a method to answer this question.

In a classic setting a TURF is organized with maybe 40 concepts to be evaluated by a consumer panel of 100+ consumers. But what if the best concepts are not in the 40 concepts and what if your competitor is changing the game by lancing new products. Now imagine a TURF analysis with the capabilities of adding millions of product variations into the equation including all future (competing) products with the granularity to zoom into personal traits and demography.

Bring it to life _ part II

Real-life example Concept & formulation development

A second example is in the area of concept development. Before products are launched many companies will organize one of multiple consumer tests to select the final go to market product. This is expensive and time consuming.

Now imagine digital twins mirroring your target audience that can taste all variations of your product and provide the liking for each individual product. Or give instant liking feedback on any recipe a development chef or formulation a flavorist created. That will help the product developers go much faster, eliminating trial & error and launching more successful products.  


In essence, the digital age warrants a more agile process that allows for engagement between R&D and Marketing and also puts the consumer at the center of the process. If you would like to read more about our offering visit our solutions page by clicking the button here.

About Foodpairing

Instantly evaluate millions of auto-generated new flavor concepts, product variations and formulations against a digital twin of your target consumer anywhere in the world with high predictive accuracy. Optimizing core products and building new ones is a multidisciplinary discipline.

To succeed, different divisions within the organization need to collaborate seamlessly. The Foodpairing platform empowers diverse teams to make smarter decisions, faster, thus creating value across the entire business. Learn more about our technology here.


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