So you’ve come upon a problem in your business that calls for expert help. You’ve browsed some food consultants’ websites and seen a lot of exciting promises and impressive portfolios. But can they help you, or do you need a food science consultant?
Food consultants in general know a lot. And they’ve helped a lot of businesses to achieve success.
But who do you turn to when you don’t know what you need? How do you get the best bang for your buck? What kind of expert should you be looking for?
Well, like all things in craft and science, that depends on several variables.
Not all food consultants are created equal
There are a lot of very smart and talented food consultants specializing in various elements of the food and beverage industry.
Maybe they’ve worked for years at a RTD beverage company, and have a vast body of experience and knowledge, offering incredible consulting value for beverage producers.
Maybe they were a master brewer at a well-known craft brewery, and have tons of insight on fermentation and flavor balance.
Or maybe they’re a marketing genius with a knack for spotting opportunities in the food and beverage market.
But what if you want to scale your gourmet cannabis candy formulation for cost-effective manufacturing?
Or what if you want to remove the alcohol from something that normally has alcohol in it, and still have it taste incredible?
Or let’s say you have a solid customer base and you want to formulate a new product that appeals to the broadest segment of them, meaning delicious with no room for error?
When it comes to solving problems they’ve never seen before—even the brightest, most creative food consultants likely don’t have the training or experience to design an effective experiment to figure out exactly why your edible baked good is showing sugar bloom, or set up precise formulation trials to find the best possible recipe for your next CBD gummy release.
There’s nothing wrong with that limitation—after all, most food consultants don’t have a food science degree, let alone a doctorate in flavor chemistry, resting on a solid foundation of formal experiment design/analysis and sensory-science experience. And as long as they don’t pretend to offer something they can’t, food consultants are an important contributor to the world of edible production.
But the fact is, there are some problems in food and beverage production that can only be solved through rigorous food science. And that’s where a food science consultant comes in.
What to consider when hiring a food science consultant
There are a few things to think about, before reaching out about food science consultation. While we’re always rooting for your success, your situation may not be the best fit for what we do. At least not yet…
Size of your business
There’s no hard and fast rule, but we generally work with medium to larger companies or well-organized startups who have budgets for R&D.
Whether that comes from established revenue streams, or venture capital doesn’t matter as much as the drive to do what it takes to get to the root of whatever we’re trying to solve.
For some projects we may also train members of your team to run certain elements, so we can be as efficient as possible with our direct consultation time. If you have people on your team who you trust to play such a role, we have even more options available. We don’t always need to be on-site for the magic of food science to work.
You don’t have to be a 30-year brand for food science consulting to make sense—but we’re generally not the right choice for throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks.
We work with well-funded startups and generational food manufacturers alike, who have a specific challenge or idea they’re hoping to delve into deeply. Food science is about precision and investigation. Not aimless brainstorming.
For self-funded people with a good idea and no idea what’s next…let’s talk once you’ve done some preliminary research, have a specific product in mind, and have created a viable business plan with a solid source of funding to get started.
Type of project
Keep in mind that not every project needs the specialization that a food science consultant brings. For example, you don’t need a food scientist just to outsource the manufacturing of your product. There are plenty of so-called Co Packers set up to do just that, for any type of food you can think of.
Non-science-based food consultants can help with:
- Kitchen-to-carton product development
- Co-packing (contract packager/manufacturer)
- Sales & marketing
But when it comes to edible product formulation, technical problem solving, scaling, optimizing for multiple objectives, and shelf-life or other food-quality advising—food science offers an array of tools for getting precision results and eliminating expensive guesswork.
Don’t need the power of food science? Here’s a helpful directory of food consultants across a variety of fields.
Please be clear and upfront about the available budget for your project. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people try to prevaricate, hoping for some kind of price match against other food consultant quotes they’ve gathered.
But that ain’t how it works. This is food science. You get what you pay for.
It’s not worth your time for us to get deep into the problem at hand, only to balk at the project proposal price tag. We can help you make the most of your budget, and the quality of our work may seem miraculous to the untrained eye—but we can’t magically make something out of nothing, and we don’t work on spec.
Budget accordingly, and you’ll get the returns you’re looking for.
Why are food science consultants expensive?
Science isn’t simply a body of knowledge. It’s a very specific process for understanding our world by isolating variables and eliminating bias in observation.
It’s not expensive; it’s valuable.
Food science isn’t just fill-in-the-blank. Designing effective experiments requires a lot of experience and creativity. High-level specialists always cost a little more—because the returns can be much greater.
A doctorate in food science comes with more than just a fancy title and framed certificate. It represents thousands of hours immersed in the best education, labs, and methods in the world. It indicates a mind sculpted to make connections, up and down the scale.
But again, you’re not just paying for all the knowledge we bring to bear. You’re paying to access a portal to overcome any obstacle that can be pieced apart by science, from appearance and sensory analysis to molecular activity.
If you had the budget to hire a full-time food scientist with that level of training, you could expect to pay an easy six-figure salary plus benefits.
But don’t worry—a lot of food-science problems can be solved with just a few days of direct consulting, via experiment design and training your team to conduct the data collection.
How much does a food science consultant cost?
Every project is different, of course, in terms of time, materials, and expenses like lab fees.
If we want to get down to the core of the problem—which we do, right?—it’ll generally take at least a full day of investigation and research. Effective food science isn’t one of those two-hour turnaround magic shows.
We don’t waste any time, but we also don’t cut corners. Food science is a systematic approach to problem solving. There’s investigation and research, experiment design and data collection, analysis and recommendations.
Experiments can take a few days to set up. If we need to collect data, we’ll train your team to do it to keep expenses minimal if possible, but training will take another day or so, and then there is analysis and reporting.
If you’re in a rush, hoping for a silver-bullet solution done cheap, quick, and dirty—then we’re simply not the right choice for the job.
But if you’re on a mission to bore into the very building blocks of whatever obstacle you’re facing—and rearrange it into a stairway to lasting success—then we’d love to hear what you’re working on. Tell us here.