Roy Ballam finds full coverage of product development in a joint video by NATHE and a vegetarian sausage manufacturer. The Food Story has been developed by the National Association of Teachers of Home Economics and Technology as a resource for teachers. The bright yellow box holds a 30-minute video, photocopiable printed resources and an advertisement for WFWF, a company which prepares vegetarian sausages.
The well-produced video covers every stage of food product development and manufacture, as it follows the development of a vegetable-based sausage from initial concept to distribution. It is packed to the brim with facts and figures, providing a plethora of up-to-date information.
As I watched the video I became aware that everything I wanted to know was covered: new product development, planning, food legislation, packaging, manufacturing, marketing - and all in 30 minutes. With my finger hovering over the pause button I carried on.
Watching the video in small sections makes clear its relevance in up-dating teachers professionally about the food industry and shows how the various stages of product development interrelate. The presenters are young and lively, and provide clear commentary throughout. Some parts are busy and a little confusing, yet in order to cover such a wide area in a short time this is probably unavoidable.
Although this resource is intended for teachers, I am sure that with the current lack of video materials for food technology it will be used in the classroom, particularly for showing the process, control and scale of food manufacture. Teachers will need to select parts to screen and develop messages and facts through discussion.
The printed resources reinforce the information on the video. Following the stages of product development, the sheets give additional information about each process and also suggest a limited selection of other resources that are available. The sheets would make interesting information cards for more able students, and could be enlarged as posters.
An obvious feature of this resource is the collaboration between NATHE and industry, especially the sausage company. Products and logos feature heavily throughout both the video and printed resources. Industry's involvement in this type of resource is important for giving advice on up-to-date practices, but not for advertising. This type of resource should not become another marketing or promotional tool for industry.
The pack also includes an awards scheme, encouraging teachers to submit students' work on food product development. Unsurprisingly, the ideas suggested are for vegetable-based products and sausages.
The packs achieve what NATHE set out to do. That is, to provide a resource for teachers to update their knowledge of the food industry. It will allow them to gain an overview of this vast area and should stimulate their enthusiasm.