Lead Dawg: Raghu Kandala
Raghu Kandala ensures the safety of Ocean Spray's popular cranberry products and develops new products for the company. Photo contributed
By conducting food research and development and managing the Foods and Snacks Product Development Team for Ocean Spray in Lakeville, Massachusetts, Raghu Kandala (Ph.D. – Food Science, ’05) ensures the safety of the company’s popular cranberry products and develops new products.
A native of the bustling technology hub of Hyderabad, India, Kandala attended a branch of the Indian Institutes of Technology for his undergraduate studies. After coming to the U.S. and completing the UGA doctoral food science program in 2005, he worked as a principal scientist and research manager at Frito-Lay for nine years before moving to Ocean Spray.
Kandala’s team consists of a few other scientists who work on a portfolio that includes fresh cranberries, cranberry sauce, snacks and Craisins, which are sweetened, dried cranberries. Their main goal is to “work with marketing and insights to create a product concept, then create a product to fit that concept,” he said.
His team of scientists collaborates with marketing experts to test different products. Transforming consumers’ input into profitable, great-tasting, healthy products is critical to the functionality of his job, he said.
“I use the fundamentals of food science that I learned at UGA every day,” he said.
The experience with food processing equipment and time spent in the lab researching thermal processing give him an advantage at his job. Thermal processing is an especially important step in food safety because it involves heating food and drink items to a temperature that prevents spoilage. These items may sit for weeks at a time on grocery store shelves.
Kandala also credits the product development competitions that he participated in while at UGA, which helped him refine his knowledge of what it takes “to create a marketable and safe product.”
By Sage Barnard