Steric’s Product Development Manager, Clara Ong is part of a four-person product development team that has many years of experience creating and modifying products. The team not only develops Steric’s own products under the Sunshine, Plate & Platter and Staminade brands but also creates private label products for supermarket and commercial customers.
Clara joined the Steric team more than three years ago and before that worked for many years in research and development in other companies. Her colleagues are similarly experienced and credentialled and play a key role in bringing new products to the market, and ensuring existing products maintain Steric’s high standard.
New product development
“An open brief for a new product can begin from a customer’s idea, a global trend or our Sales and Marketing teams,” said Clara.
“From the initial brief, we would undertake research to see what new flavours are already in the market and proven popular. Our team will also brainstorm to develop new ideas and trends locally and overseas and take the concepts to the bench,” she added.
Part of the role of the product development team is to taste products from a professional perspective. “We taste all day, every day, so we get very good at it.
We know what it’s meant to taste like and evaluate products by putting our shoes in the consumers point of view,” said Clara.
Once the team develops a prototype of a new product, it is tested, refined before being approved by the customer or our business and then put into production.
“For some of our foodservice products, we will ask commercial chefs to taste it too, to determine if it’s something they would use in their kitchen. This is particularly helpful with products like tartare sauce where there can be many flavour variations,” she added.
The team also has a strong focus on paperwork and keeping records.
“The regulatory side of our work is also important because consumers want information about where the product is from, the list of ingredients, and more.
“For home cooking, there has been a trend towards more natural products. Consumers want to know what they are feeding their families. Keeping records of all the details is essential,” said Clara.
Working alongside the production and quality teams
“Having an onsite product development team means that we are able to react whenever production requires our input”, said Clara.
Steric also has a Quality Assurance team of four people, that is supported by Clara’s team. Every morning the Product Development team members taste the products that were made the day before to identify if there are any quality issues. Every product is sensory panelled before they are approved for release.
Steric – investing in Australian manufacturing
As a medium-sized business, Steric remains agile and can respond quickly to market needs. Having a product development team in-house ensures that the company moves swiftly and continues to invest and grow in Australian manufacturing.