R&D with Collaboration
We partner with our customers for each project, with a mindset of true collaboration. Each product is important to our team. We bring our expertise in formulation, product design, and trend monitoring for product development.
We care about quality! We extensively research and test each idea to ensure the product is excellent.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT AT RFI
Our R&D process is centered around what’s needed to take a product to market, start to finish. We have full turnkey product development, from the ingredient to the consumer.
Sourcing ingredients is one of our strengths, given our excellent supplier relationships and contract growers. We believe that sourcing runs more smoothly when we play a larger role in it. From the alfalfa in Canada to the yerba mate in Brazil, our supplier relationships ensure good sourcing opportunities.
Full ingredient development comes next, beginning with our excellent lab and Applications team. The Applications team is headed by Pi-yu Hsu, a 20-year veteran with RFI Ingredients. She and her team consistently deliver excellent flavors and textures, even with ingredients that are difficult to incorporate.
The final step of the R&D process includes our diverse manufacturing capabilities. Our large manufacturing facility in Broomfield, Colorado holds the functions of liquid extraction, encapsulation, bottling, pouching, and liquid bottling. Our innovations team is constantly monitoring trends and consumer data to ensure that we’re putting resources into the right areas.
Because we put the groundwork into ideating and creating the product, we can confidently scale a successful product up. This removes some obstacles that companies face when a new product becomes a success. It also means that our customers can confidently create a product that consumers will love.
For years, RFI Ingredients has been at the forefront of trends in the nutritional and dietary supplement space. We innovated with both yerba mate and fermentation, helping to bring new products and ideas to the North American market.
One pillar of our innovation has been whole food nutrition. This means using raw ingredients that are minimally processed. We seek to retain the essential qualities of each ingredient, just as Mother Nature made it. Many additives are kept out, such as added sugar, corn syrup, and animal products (for example, by using vegetarian capsules). Not all manufacturers take this approach, which means the products they produce have been substantially changed from the plant’s original form.
At RFI, we know that the best nutrition comes from the original plant, and this mindset guides our new-product development.
TURNKEY PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
We offer full turnkey product development, from ingredient to consumer. When our customers have an idea, we can fully test and validate it. Our platform for this product development is called Blueprints for Health®. Compared to other co-manufacturing capabilities, Blueprints for Health® is unique because of the regulatory support that we provide; our customers don’t have to find a team to complete this necessary work elsewhere.
Natural Raw Material Sourcing
- Extensive network of global partners
- Company-contracted fields for some ingredients
- New ingredient development
Complete Product Development
- Available for food, beverage, and dietary supplements
- In-house applications lab
- Analytical testing lab
- Flavor & sensory development
- Custom formulations & prototypes
- Product stability & shelf-life testing
- Collaborative clinical development
Regulatory & Marketing Support
- Customs expertise
- Claims review and label creation/review
- Structure or function claims & substantiation
- Label copy & marketing copy
- Bulk products available
- Fermentation, drying, granulation and roller compaction, blending, and more
- Encapsulation, powder bottling, capsule bottling, liquid bottling, and pouching
- On-shelf final packaging
TWO PILLARS OF THE LAB
- We use Bio Merieux lab equipment, which is industry-renowned for their high quality testing equipment and platforms. Testing on this equipment shortens the testing time from 5-7 days to ~2 days
- Every ingredient that arrives at our facility goes into a QC Hold, designated by a large colorful sticker. This means that the product is not yet approved for use. Our lab runs extensive product ID tests, allergen tests, and others. Once the ingredient passes, it’s released from QC Hold and can move into manufacturing.
- We lean on the proficiency testing, which is a powerful way to ensure quality.
- We participate in multiple proficiency testing schemes, which are accredited.
- Several times a year, we’re sent random samples of mashed potatoes, along with 30-40 other labs around the world. The mashed potatoes contain various allergens and contaminants like staph, salmonella, and more. We run tests and send the results back to the testing agency, and all results are judged blind. Historically, RFI has scored very well on these tests.
- Microbiological proficiency testing is done through AOAC International. Analytical testing is done through LGC Standards, largest proficiency company in the world.
3 INITIAL TESTS ON RAW INGREDIENTS
RFI Ingredients performs far more testing than other food manufacturers. We want to avoid final product failure and the best way to do that is to perform thorough testing. That way, we catch issues before the ingredients progress to the final product stage. All ingredients that we receive go through three initial tests.
Product ID Testing
- Our lab has one of the best product ID test processes in the country, outside of labs that do this testing exclusively. Most other manufacturers do not run ID tests as extensively as RFI Ingredients does.
- We have a large library of botanical standards, which are like fingerprints for each raw ingredient. When we receive in a raw ingredient, our ID tests will compare that sample against the botanical standard, telling us whether the sample matches its label claim.
- Our excellent lab equipment, Bio Merieux, ensures that our tests are accurate and complete.
Shelf Life Testing
- Most companies contract out the shelf life testing but we do it in-house. This also means that if the outcome isn’t ideal, we’re able to retest quickly and easily. Our customers find that doing this in-house with RFI saves a lot of time and energy.
- Shelf life testing consists of two tests, run concurrently: a real-time test in ambient conditions and then an accelerated one in high temperature, high humidity. Six months after beginning the accelerated test, we can predict how the product will hold up over time.
- We screen 100% of our raw materials for allergens
- We test for “the big eight”: soy, egg, milk, wheat, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, and peanuts
- Beginning in 2022, we also test for sesame, which is becoming a more common food allergen