Joy Leegwater found it important to know what you can do with a study after graduation. “I chose the bachelor Food Technology because the prospective career was immediately clear: design new products that are more delicious or healthy.”
In her master Food Technology Joy chose the specialisation Ingredient Functionality, in which physics and chemistry play a central role. You use the knowledge on how individual ingredients work together to come to a good product. “I had a lot more group work during my master than during my bachelor, often with international students. That was special and it was sometimes difficult to work together. But now that I’m working I understand how important it is to know how to work together and communicate! As a product developer you are the centerpiece of a company: the marketing department conceptualises food products, the production department ensures that the factory can make the new product, and the sales representative brings the product to the customers. As a product developer you are the glue between these different departments.”
After her internship at Kerry Ingredients and Flavours, Joy knew that she wanted to work on a team. That is what appealed to her when she was offered a job at Smilde Bakery via LinkedIn. “Smilde Bakery is an industrial bakery that primarily makes puff pastry and “bake-off” products, such as sausage rolls and apple turnovers. Smilde Bakery also makes meringues, that are delivered to supermarkets.” She still didn’t take the offer right away. “I first wanted to spend a day working alongside an employee to see what it was like to work at that company. I was at first afraid I was asking too much, but in hindsight it even helped them to choose me: They could also get acquainted with me.
Joy works as a product developer at Smilde Bakery. “My first main task is the improvement of products. I am currently busy with improving the merengue in merengue slabs. I research how merengue works and what the ideas are behind current merengue recipes.” Joy is also busy with improving puff pastry. “Traditional puff pastry is made from butter, flour and water. But the industry often uses margarine instead of butter because it is a lot cheaper. Margarine doesn’t have the same properties as butter. Therefore, we started an investigation with the margarine producer to develop an overview of the properties of puff pastry margarine in order to optimise the flakiness.
Her second main task is the development of new products. “I develop for example a sausage bread to the wishes of a client or I work to improve the baking stability of a cheese bread. If the test version is good, I make sure that the new product can reach production.
As you can see my work is very varied! I have a lot of knowledge on the properties of different ingredients due to my work on improvement projects and many experiments. The personal aspect is a lot more important in the development of new products: You have to have a lot of discussions with other people who are never in a lab. My work is so varied because Smilde Bakery is a relatively small company. An advantage of that is that everyone knows each other. I’m happy to go to work every day thanks to my wonderful colleagues.”