Wayne Farms has broken ground on its future Customer Innovation Center, which is being constructed adjacent to the Wayne Farms Prepared Foods Complex in Decatur, Alabama. The new facility will be the center of research, development and product testing for the company.

Company officials, community leaders and representatives from the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries were present for the groundbreaking ceremony on May 17.

Company officials expect construction to begin immediately and be completed in early 2018.

Culinary kitchen

The Customer Innovation Center will feature a state-of-the-industry research and development facility and culinary kitchen— developing, testing and perfecting products for world-class customers in the restaurant, foodservice and retail sectors. With a capacity of up to 20 employees, the 15,000 square foot facility will include administrative offices, open work space, and an ultramodern, fully-operational culinary kitchen, complete with viewing windows, conference room and the latest digital technology to allow virtual meetings for customers anywhere in the world.

The culinary kitchen will be outfitted with the latest ovens, grilling and food preparation equipment,. The kitchen can be set up to replicate a restaurant or food service customer’s commercial kitchen, right down to preparing and serving the final product.


Pilot plant

The Customer Innovation Center’s USDA-inspected pilot plant will allow integration of full-scale prototype development and final recipe production of Wayne Farms’ ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook products. Featuring walk-in freezer and cooler, dry storage space and spice room, the pilot plant’s integration with the Customer Innovation Center will allow the company to produce any product developed in the test kitchen at full production.

'From the idea stage to the production stage'

Speaking to the group of supporters during the groundbreaking, Wayne Farms Vice President and General Manager of Prepared Foods Division John Flood noted the significance of the new facility to the company’s future growth.

Wayne Farms' John Flood discusses the company's plans for its future innovation center. | Wayne Farms

“Our customers are some of the largest and most respected restaurant and food service brands in the world—so the products we’re developing here are products that consumers are enjoying every day. This new facility allows us to take a chicken product from the idea stage to the production stage, and produce the item at the scale they need to meet demand — millions of pounds each year," he said.