The Director, Innovation & Product Development leads Shearer’s successful new product development initiatives as a member of the Product Life Cycle & Innovation team within Shearer’s Salty Snacks Commercial Team. This role is accountable for leading the dynamic and fast growing demands of a critical process and core capability for Shearer’s business. This position manages the needs of both internal and external partners.
The Director, Innovation & Product Development leads the product development team of salaried and hourly associates whose roles include Food Technology and Seasoning/Sample Lab technicians. This role is responsible for the execution and continuous improvement of Shearer’s New Product Development (NPD) processes and documents and contributes expertise and leadership to Shearer’s New Product Commercialization Stage-Gate Process. Additional roles and responsibilities include identifying, vetting, and developing supplier partnership and championing direct customer relationships. This position works extensively with cross-functional and supporting departments including: Technical Services, Processing, QA, Scheduling, Operations, Procurement, Manufacturing and Commercialization Management. The Director, Innovation & Product Development reports to the Vice President, Product Life Cycle & Innovation.
- Effectively lead Shearer’s Innovation and Product Development team and prioritize and execute projects.
- Direct new product ideas from inception through to food solution ensuring adherence to Shearer’s stage gate process approach to vet, validate and launch innovation. Ensure projects launch on time and on budget.
- Create new product forms (e.g. bases) and flavors (e.g. seasonings) and conduct proof of concept work.
- Build supplier partnerships by working in conjunction with Procurement and Quality to leverage and deliver quality ingredients and finished products that meet on-trend customer needs. Collaborate and partner with external suppliers to source resources, solve challenges and contribute to Shearer’s commitment to ongoing product innovation.
- Identify opportunities for growth, and initiate project work to present new ideas to customers. Engage and consult with leadership including Shearer’s Innovation Steering Team to review innovation opportunities and secure alignment and resource support to execute.
- Complete and review nutrition and ingredient information for new products working in conjunction with Shearer’s Regulatory and Formulations Manager. Provide technical product support to sales team with regards to ingredients, NLEA, marketing claims and food business regulatory issues.
- Craft, develop and refine new processes, programs, and platforms to gain consumer insights and drive product development ideation.
- Lead Shearer’s sensory capabilities and design and execute value add capabilities including consumer panels and competitive cutting evaluations. Develop and conduct Shearer’s internal sensory panels and capabilities. Direct external panel work and expert panel review work.
- Direct, manage, and continuously improve accurate and effective research and development of new formulations, seasoning and raw material evaluations.
- Ensure new products are in compliance with Shearer’s Global Food Safety Initiative SQF Level 3 commitment to excellence. Track and manage the development of new and proposed products’ technical ingredient and raw material specifications including key quality assurance components of allergens, nutritional information, shelf life and more.
- Work with QA and sanitation to communicate allergens or other food safety and nutritional concerns to ensure accurate new product trials and product launches.
- Design, direct and lead continuous improvement efforts including initiatives that deliver cost savings without impact to quality.
- Build a working knowledge of all production lines and the processes involved in product manufacturing. Understand the impact of these processes on the finished product with respect to nutritional composition and regulatory compliance.
- Foster, coach and develop teamwork, encourage continuous learning and model positive leadership across the organization.
- B.S. Degree in Food Science or related field
- 6+ Years experience in product development in the food industry including formulation design
- Strong business acumen and ability to think strategically for long term growth
- Expertise using Genesis
- Demonstrated capability in evaluating Regulatory and Marketing packaging claims
- Proficient with Microsoft Office software suite
- Travel up to 25% to production plants, customers, suppliers and other business needs
Excellent ability to organize, track, and maintain details.