How to Write a Flavor Project Brief: Guidelines for Food and Beverage Developers | FlavorSum

by | Feb 22, 2024

You’ve just left the strategy planning session with a mission to source flavor solutions for a 2025 line extension. Before reaching out to flavor manufacturers, consider crafting a flavor project brief to ensure your team and stakeholders align on expectations. 

The brief is an essential document that bridges the product concept and stakeholders’ understanding of outcomes. Your project timing becomes more efficient when everyone knows the  goals, scope, and parameters early in the timeline. Without guidelines, you may discover decision points along the way that cause you to backtrack and delay the launch.

In addition to keeping everyone on the same page, a flavor project brief gives you a framework for measuring progress and success. Notably, the brief helps you minimize misunderstandings and provides a reference document to guide corrective actions if any occur.

Characteristics of a Good Flavor Project Brief

As you begin writing your brief, keep the following tips in mind:

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Structure. The title gives you a clue about structure! Your brief should include details that clearly and quickly explain the project without overwhelming the reader.

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Context. Your brief will focus on a specific product, but sharing the background and project context can spark creative solutions.

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SMART Goals. Be as straightforward as possible with the outcomes you need for success. Smart goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

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Scope. Your flavor partner will value boundaries about parameters but try to focus on what you need to achieve, leaving room for creativity in how to deliver results.

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Internal Alignment. Before sharing the flavor project brief with vendors, take time to review the document with stakeholders to minimize misalignment as the project progresses.

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Enthusiasm. Infusing your energy and excitement about the project into the brief will be contagious!

If time permits, set a time to discuss the brief with your flavor vendor. The written document will set the project guardrails, but talking it through allows you and the vendor to address questions and nuances that may affect success.

The Elements of a Flavor Project Brief

A flavor brief usually has five major sections: scope, market or brand details, product technical information, flavor technical information, and delivery details. The following questions can help you populate each section with crucial insights about the project.

SCOPE: THE BOUNDARIES

The scope of your flavor project brief is a concise and definitive overview that leaves no room for error or interpretation.

Questions the scope section should answer include:

Background Context: What’s the origin story of the project?

Objective: What do you want to accomplish?

Deliverables: What will the flavor supplier provide?

Timing: When do you want to complete the project OR the expected launch date?

Key Success Factors: The critical needs of the project in addition to the deliverables or the factors by which you will measure the project’s success. Examples include speed, marketing support, sensory support, or technical collaboration.

Partners or Affiliates: Will the flavor vendor collaborate with a co-man or a formulator?

MARKET OR BRAND DETAILS: YOUR STORY

By describing the parameters of your brand in the flavor project brief, you’ll help your flavor partner become more familiar with your guardrails. Questions to answer are about the following areas:

Product: What is your brand or product application? For existing brands, are you creating a new product or a line extension that needs to consider brand positioning?

Target Buyer: What is your buyer’s demographic and socioeconomic profile in terms of age, lifestyle, and cultural expectations? Will you position your product to appeal to your current or a new customer base?

Geographic Market: Where do you plan to launch the product? Are you staying within your existing market or expanding into new territories?

Competitive Products: Do you have competitive products for your new launch? If yes, how do you plan to differentiate?

Product Positioning or Claims: Where does your product “fit” with buyers, and why is it a better alternative? How do you plan to sell it? (e.g., through retail stores, specialty stores, or online) What claims, if any, do you want to make about your product?

PRODUCT TECHNICAL INFORMATION: YOUR PROCESS

Insights about your production process and other ingredients in your formula will help your flavor supplier develop a solution that delivers the expected results. The following questions will help you share relevant details:

Application: What type of food or beverage are you developing?

Product Processing: How do you plan to manufacture your product? When and how is flavor added during production? Does your process have any flexibility, and if “yes,” how is it flexible?

Product Label: What does the product label messaging need to contain?

Ingredient Restrictions: What does the flavor supplier need to know about manufacturing, brand guidelines, or label requirements that will affect the recommended flavor solutions?

FLAVOR TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS: YOUR DESIRED SOLUTION

In addition to the basic details about your desired flavor solution, your flavor project brief should include any budgetary considerations. Be as descriptive as possible about the flavor profile, including the “notes” you’d like the taste experience to contain. For example, if you want a strawberry flavor, explain whether you’d like the taste to be fruity vs. jammy, juicy vs. green, or true-to-fruit vs. candy-like. Additional questions to address include the following:

Flavor Profile: Offer descriptive terms about the taste. Do you have an in-market example of flavor targets? Note if the flavor will help mask or cover off-notes and if other flavors are part of the product.

Flavor Label Requirements: How do you want to designate flavor on the label? Do you have any flexibility in flavor designation?

Color: Do you want your food or beverage product to have a specific color to reinforce flavor perceptions?

Form or Solubility: Do you need liquid or dry flavors? Do you need water or oil-soluble solutions? And do you have any flexibility with form or solubility?

Flavor Ingredient Restrictions: Does your manufacturing process or brand guidelines restrict the use of specific ingredients in your flavor solution?

Cost Requirements: Do you have a targeted budget for the flavor solutions? What are your cost-in-use requirements, if any?

Any Other Requirements: Does your flavor solution need to comply with other restrictions such as flash point or TTB approval?

DELIVERY DETAILS: WHEN AND WHERE

When explaining the delivery details in your flavor project brief, let your flavor partner know if you need any technical documentation or shipping documents. Specific questions to answer are:

Required Date: When do you need deliverables?

Quantity Needed: What quantity of flavor samples or prototypes do you need?

Required Documents: Which documents do you need for shipping and submission?

Any Special Instructions: Do you have any other details to share?

FlavorSum is Ready to Support Your Success!

If you have questions about the information to include in your flavor project brief, reach out to our team. We’re here to reduce the headaches associated with flavor sourcing and new product development!

Author

Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson, Director of Marketing at FlavorSum, brings more than 30 years of market and consumer research experience to support innovation activities for food and beverage organizations.

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