Kettle Foods Inc., San Francisco, broke ground Oct. 6 on its first real product development and testing center, located adjacent to its Kettle Brand potato chip production facility in Salem, Ore. Slated for completion next year, the building will house food scientists, sensory personnel and marketing, packaging and regulatory experts for all of the company’s snack and nut brands, not just Kettle.
The facility will include an R&D kitchen and lab, allowing production of product samples and simulation preparation processes, a sensory evaluation center for real-time product testing with consumers, and a concept room designed for ideation and customer meetings.
“It is a commitment for the future,” said Holly Mensch, who joined the company last year as vice president of research, development and innovation. “We are focusing on innovation on all fronts – flavors, formats and packaging – and the new facility gives us more space and equipment to do our work more efficiently and space to immediately test with consumers.”
ZGF Architects LLP designed the building with food development and safety in mind with an aim to minimize impact on the environment and "reflect the spirit of Diamond Foods." It includes views of a restored and expanded wetland in Salem.
In addition to Kettle Brand chips, Diamond Foods (www.diamondfoods.com) owns the Emerald, Pop Secret and Diamond of California brands in salty snacks and nuts.