Five useful tips when optimising recipes

Avoid making mistakes when optimising your food product recipes. We have been helping food companies with various optimisations for decades and see the same pitfalls recurring across industries. We have condensed our experience into five useful tips that can help you the next time you are faced with the need to change one or more of your recipes.

New conditions for food production

Supply problems, the energy crisis and inflation have all led to new conditions for food production. The ingredients required for good, stable recipes may be impossible to buy, which means the risk that production may have to stop.

Only few companies have approved alternative recipes at hand and ready for use, and this new reality has led to an increasing focus on how to best optimise recipes, both in the short and long term.

We have compiled our experience in order to help you as best as possible and present five useful tips that you can use when working towards a recipe optimisation. This advice applies regardless of whether you are optimising food products during the mature part of their life cycle, or whether your work involves the adjustment of ingredients as a consequence of market developments.

Five useful tips for successfully optimising recipes

Tip 1 Always investigate whether one ingredient can replace multiple ingredients

The simplest way to cost optimise a recipe is by replacing one ingredient with another ingredient that does exactly the same thing, while costing less. For this very same reason, this will often be an option that you may have already looked into and optimised for. It may also be an adjustment that is introduced on an ongoing basis, according to market prices and availability.

You may, however, also be able to come up with new solutions by analysing your recipes from a more general perspective. When doing this, you will often realise that you could replace multiple ingredients with a single ingredient that fulfils several functions.

A combination of ingredients that have multiple functions with added fillers will usually be cheaper than a recipe in which multiple functions are fulfilled by multiple ingredients. At the same time, this also allows you to adjust your recipe in relation to both security of supply and global markets.

Remember that new products are constantly being developed as our knowledge of ingredients and recipes continues to grow. This also comes as a consequence of the market’s demand for new solutions as a response to its current challenges. Therefore, new solutions may have been discovered since your recipes were last adjusted.

In any case, multifunctional ingredients are an option that you should look into and use where possible.

Tip 2  Discuss solutions with your entire organisation

New recipes are not just a task for your product development department. If the time is ripe to adjust your recipes, it may well be the case that the impact of this necessity is being felt in several areas of your organisation, from purchasing to sales.

Often, new needs can best be defined as a joint project for several departments, such as supply chain, production, marketing and sales. At the same time, there will always be practical challenges that require you to be prepared for a situation before it occurs.

New recipes must always be tested, for example. Your production must therefore have the time and space to be able to run test productions during working routines that are probably already under pressure from a tight schedule.

A new recipe will always lead to a smaller chain reaction in the organisation. Quality control must always be able to ensure that a new recipe is also compliant with legislation and certifications. Any new list of ingredients must also match what is stated on the packaging, which then has to be updated by marketing.

Regardless of whether the initiative to optimise recipes comes from development, purchasing, sales or production, the optimisation will only be a success if all departments are working together.

Tip 3  A new recipe can optimise your entire manufacturing process

New recipes can necessitate production changes. And even though the time may be ripe for some changes, changes can still be met with resistance. New processes can also lead to unforeseen problems.

Conversely, an improved recipe can also benefit the manufacturing process. A new starch that sticks faster might shorten the production time. A single ingredient that replaces multiple ingredients can simplify complicated workflows.

Both would be a saving on your final product because of reduced fixed costs for energy etc. and because you have a stronger buffer against unforeseen costs such as from a faulty production run.

For the same reasons, it may be the rational choice for you to outsource parts of the production and mixing of ingredients. This shortens processing times in your own production facility and allows for greater focus, with fewer individual components, both in production and in the warehouse. Simplifying the production process also makes it easier for an ever-changing team of employees to weigh and dose complicated recipes.

Tip 4  Savings can come from factors other than the price of ingredients

As already mentioned, recipe optimisations can lead to savings other than on the cost price of ingredients. It is therefore crucial that your analysis takes into account the costs of production, storage and freight. The management of supplies and suppliers can involve many hidden costs.

The rational option in your work towards optimisation may therefore be to consider single sourcing, as well as options for an external warehouse and mixing plant. Considering that the list of ingredients on the packaging would need to be changed anyway, you could investigate at the same time whether it would make sense to update the packaging.

A simplification cannot only be advantageous in terms of price but could also stay ahead of environmental requirements while also remaining completely up-to-date in relation to the needs of the consumer –  whether the latter is demanding environmentally friendly products or simply a visual appearance that is representative of the austerity that goes with contemporary trends.

New types of packaging are constantly under development towards packaging that is simpler and more environmentally friendly. Packaging today is typically structured with fewer layers, while retaining the same quality of appearance and barriers as previous products.

Perhaps it would be appropriate to look into whether the time is right for a reconsideration of your existing packaging.

Tip 5  Be open and seek interaction with and around your supply chains

Your ability to obtain a stable supply is an obvious prerequisite if your production is to proceed as intended. Knowing that your supply chain is strong and secure also gives peace of mind and room for development.

This is the routine headroom that a good supply partner can give you; headroom with space to create development and value because it allows you to play to your own best strengths.

Tip number five is therefore that you involve your supply partners and are willing to share knowledge about your product, your processes and your production.

The willingness to be open is a requirement of bringing knowledge into play. You should therefore be open about the content of both the product and the manufacturing process because the more familiar your partners are with your challenges and opportunities, the better the workable solution that can be applied will be. This applies both in relation to the individual details of the product and to the overall bigger picture, which includes everything from supply chains to the printed exterior of your packaging.

There are often many possible solutions to a particular challenge and only you can decide which solutions are the best match for your own framework and possible options, but the expertise you need is out there when the time comes to optimise your recipes.

Different types of recipe optimisations

The process of adjusting recipes takes place at every stage of a food product’s life cycle. Sensory changes are mostly seen at an early stage while the more practical recipe optimisations usually occur when a product has matured.

Product manager Svend Aagard has helped food companies towards many different optimisations. In the video, he talks about the four different categories that we encounter in our interactions with customers:

The four categories, with customer cases

Helping food companies to optimise their recipes is a natural part of our normal working day. If we look across industries, we can divide the recipe optimisations into the following categories:

Practical optimisations: When a recipe leads to practical challenges.

Market-related optimisations: When consumers are not buying a product.

Price optimisation: When you need to reduce the cost of a recipe.

New legislation: When the need for a new recipe is dictatet by legislation.



We present real world customer examples for each category and tell you about the areas where you should pay particular attention in order to succeed.

Download the technical folder by following the button. In exchange for your e-mail, you will have access to the folder, which reviews our many years of recipe optimisation experience with our customers.


Also download technical folder with customer examples


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