design sprints: transforming the humble Aussie pie


Our client was developing  new Aussie pie for people with dysphagia - a medical condition that makes it difficult to swallow. 


The pie needed to deliver a 'pie' experience in taste and mouthfeel, but be soft in texture for individuals on texture-modified diets – a big challenge!


Our new pie needed to be soft yet hold its form and heat quickly and easily. 


We enrolled the client in a Design Sprint, conducted with our partners, Monash Food Innovation.  


Phase I: The Monash team helped design, develop and print 3D mould trays for different pie components such as pastry, vegetables and meats using industrial design techniques. 


Phase II: Recipe development in conjunction with the client’s dietitian. In a state-of-the-art kitchen at Monash University we tested different cooking conditions for quality and very specific nutritional output requirements.


Phase III: The pie-ce de resistance: taste testing with the client's team and patients on site; in hospitals, aged care facilities and in-home.


Sensory taste testing with the elderly presents it's own unique challenges as sensory acuity declines with age. We tackled this in the usual PLAY way, treating our participants with warmth and respect and in a setting that doesn't typically see much research action. 


Our client was able to rapidly accelerate their product development with real-time feedback from customers to inform decision-making. 


Along the way, potential challenges were identified and resolved. For example, under certain conditions the pie ‘collapsed’. Experimenting with ratios of meat to vegetables to gravy generated a ‘close-to-pie’ look but a soft texture.


Unexpected new product opportunities also rose. A flat ‘taco’ was accidentally created and identified as a potential alternative for the next generation in aged care facilities; ‘hemp’ was trialled as an ingredient to help give form and provide nutritional benefits; as well as ideas from patients and a ‘reality check’ on the complexities of choice in these scenarios (such as  patient-carer interactions and assisted-feeding etc).


The project was an iterative process over a number of weeks, requiring close collaboration and absolute trust in the expertise of everyone involved. 


The result of this accelerated iterative process was a proven prototype to replicate in the client's own kitchens (with moulds and recipes), and a raft of new opportunities to explore. 

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