It’s almost the New Year, so let’s talk about everything NEW! New flavors and new products are exciting! Every year when Starbucks and fast food restaurants come out with their seasonal flavors, we line up for our favorites! Likewise, our customers love surprising their dogs with fun new flavors, but how do we come up with new products? Well, first of all, we want to make sure that anything we make is safe, nutritious and has the highest quality that Muenster Milling is known for, and we don’t rush just to produce a trendy item. Our owners have always said we answer to the customer, not shareholders, so we want to make sure your trust is maintained!
How do new ideas come about? Luis Lopez, who is head of Product Development at Muenster, says that ideas come from many areas, including when multiple customers request an item, sometimes they come from Mitch, marketplace research, or just a brainstorm with employees. He also cautions that “ideas go through many stages, and it takes time, often many months, to get to a finished product.” After an idea is deemed feasible, it goes to customer research to see if the product seems like it would be something that would be popular, to logistics of ingredients, recipes, and product testing.
After an idea seems like it would work, and that customers would like it, the next step is sourcing ingredients from trusted suppliers. After we get samples of ingredients, then recipe testing happens. Test batches are ran, with variables to ensure the best product quality. For instance, in freeze dried coatings, the amount of coating is tested to decide the optimal level of coating per bag. Luis says that “sometimes we have to change the carrier or the amount of mixing in order to create the best outcome in the finished product. It can get tricky.” In freeze dried treats and toppers, timing in the dryer is tested to get the best end result in texture.
Testing then happens with visual and taste for both humans and dogs! This is the best part for the office dogs! We want the product to appeal to the owner (smells great, no waste of ingredients, looks appealing, good value), as well as the dog (smells and tastes amazing!). We also run any recipes past our consulting nutritionist to ensure that the resulting values still stays within the proper nutrition zone for dogs. Some products are meant to be complete balanced meals (like the elk and venison patties) and some are meant to be fed in conjunction with a balanced meal (toppers, bites, meatballs). When we think we have the right mix of ingredients and the correct recipe, then we run test batches to make sure everything holds up for production runs.
The test batches are ran over a period of time, and like every other product we make at Muenster, each batch is sealed and tested just like it would come to your house. The bags are jostled around, they are stored for awhile, and then we look and make sure the product stands up to a “typical” life cycle. After we find the proper process, ingredient amount and recipe, we go into production! While all of this testing is happening, behind the scenes marketing is working on everything to make it to the sale. Packaging, graphic design, printing, and launch materials are completed to let everyone know what we have coming up, and then taking photos and adding products to the website and social media! It is quite the process!
Safety Is Vital!
All freeze dried products are tested by a third party, FOR EVERY BATCH. The lab tests for pathogens and contaminants. This is incredibly time consuming and costly for Muenster, but important to ensure that our customer’s dogs are safe. So any new product follows these guidelines as well. Each batch takes over a week to get “released” by the testing lab as safe to ship to customers. Some tests for moisture content, etc. are done in house, but we want to be extra sure that we are providing a great product for your dogs!
Why Freeze Dried?
Luis is excited about the freeze dried products because “you know what is in it, there aren’t any extra ingredients, just nutritious meat, with all the nutrients from raw.” He also adds that it is “perfect because it is shelf stable, simple and minimally processed, making it the healthiest and most convenient way to feed your dog.” We are all very excited about what Luis comes up with next for the freeze driers and our dogs’ menu!
What is Coming Up Next At Muenster?? SNEAK PEEK ALERT!
Well, Luis is pretty tough, but he was convinced to give the readers a hint on what might be coming up next for products at Muenster. He divulged that there may be a new customization option coming for My Custom Dog Food, and it may involve CHEESE. Stay tuned! Do you have an idea for a new product? Send us a message on the My Custom Dog Food Facebook group!