From offices in Boise, Post Falls, Twin Falls, and Pocatello, TechHelp Specialists help Idaho manufacturers, food processors and entrepreneurs improve their competitiveness through continuous product and process innovation.

Catherine Cantley

Food Processing Specialist – University of Idaho Extension & School of Food Science

Physical Location
Boise State University
Micron Business & Economics Building – Office 2256
2360 W University Drive, Boise, ID 83725

Mailing Address:
1910 University Drive
Boise, ID 83725-1656

Office Phone: 208-426-2181


Catherine Cantley is a  Food Processing Specialist with TechHelp and Assistant Professor at the University of Idaho School of Food Science. She is an experienced Senior Research and Development Manager with demonstrated expertise in food manufacturing, process engineering, product optimization, food safety, and sensory and consumer science.  She has worked in both the retail sector and the food service sector, so she can flex readily to help your company meet the needs of your customer(s).

In this day and age, data are everywhere. Catherine loves to leverage the power of those data to increase profit margins, product quality, and process efficiencies. All too often we throw away good money because we haven’t fully mapped out how the ingredients, process, safety, and consumer preferences correlate. For example, we may optimize the performance of a piece of equipment for yield or runtime, but we struggle on the consistency of the finished product quality. Your customers build brand trust based on a consistent, high-quality experience. But how do we deliver that?

Most of the products we produce in our factories have certain characteristics that we control to get the *best* product possible. This might include flavor attributes, texture attributes, or even appearance attributes such as color or defect level. Today, many manufacturers treat all product attributes as equal. Imagine if we could understand *exactly* how much each attribute (characterized by its size, shape, color, flavor, or texture) affects the end customer’s perception of quality. We could do a few things with that type of information.

  1. We might say that “not all defects are created equal”. What if we only threw away the ones that were most egregious and sold everything else? How might our margins improve when we rejected less?
  2. We could extend our shelf life by either addressing the microbial stability or reducing the types of defects that limit our shelf life.
  3. We may assume that a certain ingredient had a functional purpose. But, what if you could improve your margins by eliminating that ingredient with no loss in consumer liking or process capability?
  4. We can drive hard for improved process efficiencies such as throughput while ensuring that the factory is laser-focused on delivering against the most important quality attributes.

Catherine loves to train and use a “train the trainer” model. (See her first TechHelp Video on Sample Size Here) Each of us, in our manufacturing environments, face similar challenges. We compete for talent and may have high turnover in certain job positions. This makes training and onboarding a heavy tax to our work costs. We may have long shifts and very little downtime. This makes it challenging on us to conduct training on personal and food safety, quality, and culture. What if you could develop an online training program that is fully auditable and easy to implement with just a computer and headphones? Would you be interested? Catherine can help.

Catherine started her career at PepsiCo Americas Foods, working as a process engineer and SME on the Lays Potato Chip brand. There she gained experience in ideation, focus groups, prototyping, experimental design, refining with sensory and consumer testing, scale-up, commissioning, and quality monitoring. She worked closely with the factories to execute equipment installations, commissioning activities, and ensure success with thorough hands-on training activities. She expanded her experience to include the foodservice side of the industry, moving to The J.R. Simplot Company in Idaho. There she partnered with operations, marketing, sales, quality, and research and development to lead sensory quality and brand positioning research. This included creating sensory quality metrics, establishing factory training programs, auditing, and designing and executing research such as shelf life, drivers of liking, cost improvement validations, and new vegetable variety qualification.

She loves to reach out and mentor others in leadership competencies, especially as they relate to food manufacturing and research. If you have an interest in leadership training seminars, please reach out. She’d love to come and present to your company.


  • Need help creating a shelf life program?  
  • Could you use a small consumer test to determine which are the “critical to quality” attributes of your product portfolio?  
  • Could you use a little assistance in creating online training modules or setting up a “train the trainer” culture in your facility?  
  • Do you have an operation that you’d like to increase your throughput or yield on?  
  • Is it time to bolster your food safety program?  

Catherine offers a wide range of services that you can leverage within your company.   Call her today to schedule a free assessment.




Blog Posts

TechHelp Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Course Begins September 15 at the Business Accelerator in Nampa, Idaho

Lean Six Sigma (LSS) is a well-known approach for achieving operational excellence that combines the process improvement benefits of Lean with the statistical process control (SPC) benefits of Six Sigma. It takes advantage of the “value-added” focus of Lean while maintaining the statistical rigors of Six Sigma. This series will include four full-day training sessions with three weeks between sessions for participants to complete project work that is an essential part of the LSSGB program.

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TechHelp Food Manufacturing Team Delivers Courses to North Idaho

Food Manufacturing Specialists  Dr. Janna Hamlett & Catherine Cantley of TechHelp and the University of Idaho are working with their Post Falls-based colleague, Gene Hamacher, to deliver workshops to food processors in the Panhandle of Idaho.  “We do a lot of work in South, Central & Eastern Idaho and wanted to make an effort to meet the needs of companies up north,” said Dr. Hamlett.  The workshop series kicks off on August 15-17 at the U of I Research Park in Post Falls with our FSPCA Preventive Controls for Human Food Course.  

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