Potato Chips“Processor innovation.” Those words should be synonymous with food and beverage.  They should roll off the tongue as naturally and easily as “cookies and crackers.” And with that, I would like to draw your attention to some of latest news involving Pepperidge Farm (cookies) and Snyder’s-Lance Inc. (crackers). 
Last September saw Pepperidge Farm open a $30 million, 34,000-sq-ft innovation center, an expansion to its Norwalk, Conn., headquarters. Pepperidge, part of Campbell Soup’s second-largest business (Global Baking & Snacks), manufactures both cookies and crackers, in addition to breads and bakery desserts.  More recently, Snyder’s-Lance, Charlotte, N.C., said in February that it will build a 60,000-sq-ft research and development center in Hanover, Pa., to support the company’s broad snacks line. That line includes Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels, Lance sandwich crackers and Cape Cod potato chips.  
Interestingly, these are just two of many innovation center projects from coast to coast. Still more examples include a new Colonial Heights, Va., facility for refrigerated dips processor Sabra Dipping Company. And, a new $5 million R&D center is just underway in Bakersfield, Calif., for Bolthouse Farms, another Campbell Soup business. 
While construction continues out West, I see several interesting news threads.
  1. R&D innovation centers have a place at companies with open innovation networks. Nestlé SA and its U.S. businesses may not be radical or vocal about open innovation. Yet, with its wildly successful Stouffer’s Panini (and more items since), Nestlé Prepared Foods has proven it can successfully work with outside processor-partners. Meanwhile, Nestlé SA continues to invest in global R&D “best-in-class” facilities in Solon, Ohio. One project involved an entirely new site for Nestlé Professional (see PF November 2012). Now, Solon is preparing to welcome a second global R&D center of excellence for Nestlé’s frozen and further prepared retail foods businesses.
  2. There are just as many new, multi-million dollar innovation centers within the ingredient supplier community. Prepared Foods has showcased nearly 10 new R&D centers during the past year alone. There are two more facility profiles (under our “Foundation for Innovation” series) in this issue, found on pages 51-56. These suppliers (with more to come) use new innovation centers to become preferred partners with facilities where both sides can co-create new finished product options.
  3. There’s a fascinating growth story here (quite literally) which I don’t think is ever told in capital expenditure forecasts. Analysts, such as Industrial Info Resources, routinely track food and beverage industry capital expenditures ($2.65 billion already underway in Q1), but I suspect these reviews don’t fully account for these many processor and supplier innovation centers.
P.S. Visit our “Food for Thought” interview series at www.PreparedFoods.com for an interview with the father of sous-vide, Cuisine Solutions’ chief scientist Bruno Goussault.

Gayle and Phil Tauber, Founders, Kashi Company, to present the Keynote Address
Prepared Foods’ 31th annual New Products Conference will be held September 15-18, 2013, at Loews Coronado, in San Diego, Calif. The conference is the food and beverage industry’s premier event where R&D, new product developers, marketing and executive management professionals can gain valuable insights into new food and beverage products and trends from around the world. 
Hear from the founders of Kashi Company, as well as PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, MilkPEP, Mintel International, General Mills, Eureka Ranch and more! Make plans to attend now! 
Prepared Foods’ 2013 New Products Conference has arranged a special rate of $199 plus tax per night for attendees at Loews Coronado in San Diego, Calif. 
Make plans now to ensure availability. Register today and save $300! 
For more information, visit www.New ProductsConference.com or contact Marge Whalen at 847-405-4071 or whalenm@bnpmedia.com.