Derrick Coleman

Getting to Know Derrick Coleman, Project Manager — Food Production

We believe it’s important to know who you’re working with.

We’re continuing on with our Getting to Know CIFT blog series with our Project Manager — Food Production, Derrick Coleman. Derrick has been with CIFT for a little over one year and he is an expert in all things product development and technical consultation with deep experience. We asked Derrick some questions to get a glimpse into his role and what makes him excited to go to work every day.

What do you do at CIFT?
The primary objective of my position is to serve as a representative of CIFT for the development and building of clients and revenue with food industry manufacturers, vendors, and service providers by developing working relationships and projects that fulfill CIFT’s mission. Most of the projects that I’m working on involve some form of product development and/or technical consultation. Being able to “multitask” is a strong asset and characteristic of being a part of the CIFT team. No two days are the same.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
There are three things that motivate me to wake up and go to work. First, and foremost, is my family. They are my everything. Secondly, the opportunity to work with such a broad variety of clients from startups to seasoned companies with strong historic roots. Last, but not least, the work at CIFT is ever changing and is not lineal which compliments my work style of preference.

What has been your favorite project so far?
There are quite a few to choose from. However, I will have to say that developing a protein bar for a client was one of the most technically challenging, yet rewarding projects that I have ever worked on. My involvement extended beyond bench top formulating to working with both domestic and international ingredient suppliers to several different co-manufacturers.

What’s one thing you want people to know about your role, service or CIFT?
I have over 20 years experience in the food industry with strong experience in both product development and technical sales. No project is too big or too small. CIFT has an excellent team of dedicated Project Managers that can work with food industry clients in need of Product Development, Quality Assurance, Engineering and/or Operations support.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?
My wife and I separately have either been in a movie or tv show. Secondly, I love to travel, specifically to all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico.

Read Derrick’s product development blog, “Staying Competitive Through Product Development.”

Supply chain

Staying Competitive Through Product Development

What is Product Development?

Many companies may treat product development as if it is similar to manufacturing, however the two are profoundly different. Product development is the whole process of bringing a new product to market whereas manufacturing is solely the production aspect. Product development is not only essential for business success, but also contributes directly to a company’s growth. The product development process for most food businesses consist of five basic stages: Idea Generation, Screening, Concept Development, Product Development and Commercialization.

Why is Product Development Important?

In order to stay competitive and satisfy consumer needs, companies need to be innovative and part of innovation is product development. If you’re part of a larger corporation, you might have your own team of development specialists that includes food scientists, food engineers and marketing experts. Even with a specialized team, development is not a quick initiative. The average time spent on developing new food products is about two years and failure rate can be as high as 90%.

Current US Food Trends

Many food scientists are increasingly faced with developing products that are influenced by claims such as, “Clean Label”, “Natural”, “Organic”, “Sourced Domestically” and “Containing No Trans Fat”. This effort is largely based on the consumer, who is becoming more educated about what food products they consume or purchase.

In 2020, there have been a few trends within the food industry that are gaining momentum and have captured the eye of the retail consumer, for example:

  • Plant Based Meat Alternatives (ie. Beyond Meat, Impossible Burger, etc)
  • Functional Foods (ie. Probiotics Added, Calcium Fortified, etc)
  • Global Flavor Profiles (ie. West African, Middle Eastern and South Indian)

CIFT’s Product Development History and Offering

For over 25 years, CIFT has been involved in product development and helping a variety of food manufactures on projects related to Formulation Development, Concept Development, Ingredient Sourcing, Sensory Analysis to Production Trial Runs. Led by Dr. Shari Plimpton. Our clients range in size from million dollars to over a billion dollars in annual sales.

Satisfied Customers

Many of the clients CIFT works with have products found in retail and/or food service regionally, nationally and international. CIFT’s product development experience includes Fermented Dairy Products, Meats, Entrees, Frozen Foods, Canned Vegetables Sauces, Snacks and Confectionery Products.

One of the many product development success stories includes CIFT working with Meijer. Meijer is a pioneer in the combined grocery and department store industry. Today, they have more than 200 locations located throughout the Midwest. CIFT’s expertise helped deliver a substantial economic impact by resulting in savings of more than $12,000, five new jobs and increased/retained sales of more than $3.8 million. Read the entire success story, “Launching New Products in Just Nine Months”.

No matter if you are a meat processor, canned vegetable producer, beverage or snack manufacturer…CIFT has the experience to get you to the next level.

Additional Expertise — Supply Chain Optimization

Development is just one of CIFT’s expertise. With Covid-19 yielding a major impact on many food manufacturers’ supply chain needs, we also offer a free Supply Chain Assessment. This free assessment is available for food manufacturers faced with challenges ranging from long lead times to seeking alternate ingredients, packaging and/or chemical suppliers.

CIFT can provide technical assistance for any of your development needs, large or small. To schedule a complimentary consultation, please fill out our contact us form and our experts will be able to assist you. When you are ready, we are ready!

State-of-the-Art Product Development Partnering


Alloway, a full service environmental laboratory that provides solutions for drinking water, wastewater and hazardous waste analyses, has provided defensible data for over 30 years. They staff their clients’ industrial laboratories, partner with non-competing commercial laboratories and provide innovative software solutions.

With increasingly more stringent pollutant limits, Alloway believed they needed to innovate their process by employing respirometry. Respirometry is used to understand and troubleshoot the activated sludge process. Alloway knew that using respirometry to study and evaluate municipal industrial wastewater treatment processes would benefit regulated communities and companies. So, a demand for new product development of designing and fabricating a mobile respirometry system exclusive to each customers’ separate needs emerged.

Alloway’s research found there were no companies in the state of Ohio that offered respirometry testing services. They contacted CIFT, who connected them with The Ohio Energy & Advanced Manufacturing Center (OEAMC). OEAMC worked with Alloway to custom design and engineer a Mobile Respirometer System specifically for Alloway’s needs.

Since new product development and implementation, Alloway has saved over $100,000 with an increased investment of over $145,000. Alloway has also avoided over $100,000 of unnecessary investments.