An impressive career in the food industry
Suzette’s passion for food science was born of her fondness for baking and being in the kitchen.
“What I love about food science is all the tweaking and perfecting that goes into developing a recipe,” she says. “I also like that food trends are always changing so I’m always faced with new challenges.”
Suzette has worked her way up during her 29 years at Nestlé Canada. She started as Product Developer in the ice cream division and, over time, became Project Manager and then Manager of Technical Applications Group for ice cream. She broadened her role by taking on meals and pizza, and working in the Consumer Sensory Kitchen. This year, Suzette became Director of Technical Applications, where she heads up all Technical Application Groups for Nestlé Canada and the Consumer Sensory Kitchen.
The company has fully supported her development while allowing her to be based out of London, Ont. “Nestlé is a great company to work for. We have amazing research centres and I have access to colleagues all over the world to learn from, and share ideas and collaborate with. Nestlé is also very supportive of work-life balance.
“Of course, getting to taste all the new products is another great perk of the job!”
The evolution of Canadian taste
The food industry has seen many shifts over the last three decades, and Suzette has been there every step of the way, making Nestlé products better for Canadians. While Canadian diets have changed from high carb, high fat to low carb, low fat, our food preferences have also evolved.
“On the nutrition, health and wellness side, people are looking for lower sugar, lower sodium, simple ingredients and higher-protein options. Recently, we’ve seen the rising popularity of plant-based options.”
Suzette has had a hand in the evolution of many Nestlé Canada products. She was integral to reducing sugar and saturated fat in their confectionery line of frozen desserts, and worked on adding frozen yogurt, a Greek yogurt line and real fruit options to Real Dairy ice cream. Suzette was also part of reducing sodium and saturated fats and adding more protein to Lean Cuisine dishes. “Something I’m really proud of developing is Goodnorth. It’s a frozen treat that’s high in protein, low in calories and has no artificial sweeteners. My team worked extremely hard to develop this product and it tastes great.”
Developing and improving delicious products
Which flavours are the favourites of Canucks? Suzette says maple walnut ice cream is a top seller in Canada, especially in Quebec. Another popular flavour is caramel.
“Canadians like a rich caramel flavour with some dairy notes, compared to the more burnt-sugar caramel flavour preferred in Europe,” she says. Coffee Crisp is sold only in Canada, while French Vanilla — with an eggy, custard flavour — is a unique flavour to Canada and the U.S.
To identify consumers’ preferences, the Nestlé Consumer Insights team does a great deal of research. They then use that information to develop new products and renovate existing ones.
“We’re always working on improving the nutrition, health and wellness of our products, but you never know what the next trend will be. That’s what makes my job exciting.”