Selerant-Devex-PLM-recipe management

Recipe Management 101

| Product Lifecycle Management | Formulation Management | Food & Beverage
Posted By: Selerant

Where is your R&D headed?

Many companies create home-grown solutions or use spreadsheets for formulation management.  While they may be able to house the data, there is little that can be done to:

  • Protect confidential formulation information
  • Standardize development processes (including units of measure, plant equipment, and vendors)
  • Elevate visibility
  • Expedite development
  • Ensure compliance
  • Generate accurate labeling


1.  Protect confidential information.

How valuable is your formulation database? How do you ensure that it is protected in case of breach?

Password-protecting files on a single laptop does not provide adequate security or traceability.  Look for high-grade security options that can create highly granular security levels.  Ideally, you should be able to allow your team members to work with the tools they need, but protect the formulas you want to keep confidential.

This would allow you to create a formula that can be used within multiple formulas/recipes.  However, you must also allow complete formula analysis, to create compliant labeling and documentation.

2.  Standardize

A leading beverage manufacturer used spreadsheets to manage their formulations. The growing company saw increasing variations between formulations because each person kept their own database of formulations and granularity for measurement. While one developer identified ingredients to the hundredths (xxxx.xx) another was using the ten thousandth, (xxxx.xxxx).

This literal small difference resulted in large variations of consistency, cost, and nutritional analysis upon production.

Read our series on why PLM far exceeds spreadsheet for product data and recipe management:

  1. 5 benefits of Product Lifecycle Management over spreadsheets and other old-school digital tools
  2. Goodbye, spreadsheet. Hello, PLM.
  3. Five spreadsheet nightmares you can avoid by switching to a well-designed PLM solution

Define standards with:


  • Product and Process Requirements:  Define formulation, packaging, process, regulatory, and documentation requirements. 
  • Version control:  Define automatic naming structure, archival procedures, notifications for changes
  • Units of Measure:  Define standard units of measure and the degree of measurement (ex:  2 or 4 numerical values after the decimal point?)
  • Central database:  Universal library of materials with defined attributes (cost, nutritional values, allergen declaration, etc.)
  • Equipment/plant: Define equipment used in each plant for clear final instructions during manufacturing.

3.  Raise visibility

Redundancies and duplicate efforts not only drain valuable resources, but can result in errors, non-compliance, and loss of quality control.


  • Central database:  Access secured formula database with real time updates and version control history
  • PLM/ERP Integration: Sync true costs, resource allocation, and recipe data for continually updated, accurate data.
  • Knowledge Base Search:  Utilize what you already have with search capabilities.  These should include the ability to search by keywords, creator, timeframe, formula attributes, and specific ingredients used.
  • Formulation hierarchy:  Organize a product with multiple hierarchical layers.
  • Compare and contrast views:  View formulations side-by-side as well as compare with original product requirements
  • Vendor specifications:  Review and sync vendor/supplier data to easily access and analyze vendor specifications for bought ingredients

4.  Calculation Tools

Spreadsheets can only provide a defined set of calculation tools and analysis. In a competitive market, you must outpace competitors to market. Quick reaction must be balanced with safe and consistent products, requiring advanced calculation and analytical tools.

  • What If Scenarios:  Analyze formulations to see what a change will impact (before actually changing it).
  • Formula optimizer:  Analyze existing formulations to see if they can be easily changed for new objectives (lower costs, excluded allergen, new compliance requirement).
  • Mass replace:  Find and replace ingredients by amount/percentage in multiple formulations
  • Formulation explosion:  Roll up and view calculations for the entire formula

5. Track variances

Traceability is a critical aspect to formulation development.  You must be able to see the changes of a formulation throughout development as well as understand where you are in the process and what remains to be done for finalization and compliance.

  • Specifications: Track variances, compare formulations, and make global changes (Ex:  change vendor)
  • Event-driven notifications:  Create notifications for major formulation events (Ex: changes made to a finalized product)
  • Reporting: Easily create and generate reports without continual requests to IT  

6.  Ensure compliance

  • Continual alerts:  Instantly see alerts to any non-compliance process or ingredient as soon as it is added to a formula
  • Regulatory analysis:  Run analysis for compliance throughout development stage for all selected regions.
  • Allergen management:  Run analysis for allergens and compare to initial product requirements.
  • Nutritional analysis:  Food and beverage companies should be able to run nutritional claims compliance analysis to ensure formulations meet the defined product requirements (ex: low fat, low sugar, low salt, gluten-free, etc.) 

7.  Accurate finalization.

Once a product formulation is validated, it must be properly finalized with detailed manufacturing instructions, a bill of materials (BOM), and compliant labeling for the market. 

  • Compliant labeling: Generate and manage labeling using defined templates for multiple regions
  • Manufacturing instructions:  Generate manufacturing instructions that can be easily accessed by each plant with version control and multi-language capabilities.
  • Bill of Materials