Faced with tight margins and tough competition, many food and beverage manufacturers and food service companies have very limited R&D resources to come up with the products consumers want. Cargill says its newly expanded Food Innovation Center in Plymouth, Minn., promises to be a unique environment where the company's own researchers work side-by-side with customers' staff to gain an edge.
"We wanted to find the best way to satisfy the product research and development needs of our customers in food and beverage manufacturing and the food service industry," said Kerr Dow, Cargill vice president of global food technology. "So, we designed a facility we believe will promote collaboration, accelerate innovation and help our customers reduce product development cycles."
Completely remodeled and doubled in size, Cargill's Plymouth Food Innovation Center offers retail and food service customers full access to state-of-the-art research equipment and the collective knowhow of its food scientists. The result, the company says, is an innovation environment that reduces product development cycles and improves access to global market insights and technologies.
"This is a one-of-a-kind facility—and we believe it will give our customers a competitive advantage," Dow said.
Cargill will also bring the majority of its North American food and ingredient research staff together in the $5.5 million expansion, which doubled the square footage of the facility from 20,000 to 40,000. The facility will help Cargill customers thrive by providing extensive ingredient expertise in numerous food categories, including snacks, cereal, bakery, confectionary, convenience, and frying applications.
The Food Innovation Center's highlights include:
A collaboration and presentation space that incorporates a fully equipped commercial kitchen for prototype preparation and culinary demonstrations
A state-of-the-art frying applications space measuring the performance of various blends of frying oils under controlled conditions
A sensory facility housing descriptive analysis panels and consumer/panelist testing booths
Significant oil ingredient development space devoted to R&D for a variety of fats and oils solutions
A snacks, cereal and baking mix pilot area to scale up bench concepts to replicate production environments
A bakery applications center facility including a host of commercial and specialized baking equipment
Cargill's Food Innovation Center is the company's primary R&D facility serving food and beverage manufacturers and food service customers in North America. It is an integral part of Cargill's network of Global Cargill Innovation Centers, including the European and Latin American Food Innovation Centers. In the past few years, Cargill opened innovation centers in Campinas, Brazil; Wichita, Kansas, U.S.; and New Delhi, India; and has expanded its European Research and Development Center in Vilvoorde, Belgium.