Have you ever wondered who comes up with the exotic, seasonal, and surprising flavors that you see in the chocolate aisle? That’s the R&D department.
We spoke with David Rodriguez, the manager of the Research & Development team at Marich, who is in charge of paving the way to create fresh and up-and-coming flavors for retail and private label customers.
What goes into the flavor development & the new product process for Marich Chocolates?
Well this is kinda one of those…a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a whole lot of love, finger crossing, trade insight, and working with our great Marich team members to pull it all together.
Some flavors that have recently come out of the R&D process, and are available at market under the Marich brand, are our Lemon Shortbread, Maple Bourbon Pecans, Peanut Butter Pretzels, and Barrel Aged Bourbon Caramels.
What happens after R&D perfects a new flavor?
In the R&D lab we work in micro-sized versions of the equipment that produces the Marich Chocolate flavors you know and love. Once a formula has been perfected we then have to create a recipe that our operations team can utilize to produce a full commercial size batch.
Most would believe this would be a straightforward mathematical conversion, but there is a real art in a first-time scale-up. Think of making a jumbo cookie vs a small cookie at home….a jumbo cookie center will take longer to cook and the outside could potentially get hard vs a smaller scale cookie that will cook evenly due to the smaller size. A similar concept applies to our scaling process.
What do you love about working in your industry?
In our industry, and specifically the Research and Development environment, it’s ever-changing and everyday is a new creative opportunity.
If you look at the evolution of food as a whole, the landscape has changed immensely over the past decade. I appreciate that I will always have something fun and interesting to work on, from new flavor profiles and textures to better-for-you attributes.
To have the opportunity to work with so many talented and inspiring individuals, and have a hand in the evolution of the food environment/landscape itself is pretty rewarding.
You’ve Been with Marich for 17 Years! What’s keeping you around?
I started working with Marich in 2003. What drew me here was the family aspect., the ability to work side by side with the owners, Brad & Troy, and to start developing Toffee formulas and processes.
I have always, from day one, appreciated and respected Brad & Troy for the roles they hold, all they do, and represent within the company. As the years go on, my appreciation continues to grow daily, as well as a great appreciation for the entire Marich team. This amazing company is my extended family.
What’s your favorite Marich flavor?
Coconut Curry Cashews: Roasted cashews in an exotic blend of velvety white chocolate, mild curry, and coconut.
What’s a fun fact your employees might not know about you?
Since Marich is a strong family culture company we are all pretty close so this is actually a challenging one to answer…
I have only been out of my home state for the first time within the past 5 years, and have now been to Las Vegas, Chicago, and Reno.