The new center, according to a press release from the company, brings culinary concepts and manufacturing together to integrate trend-forward research and product development capabilities, expansive culinary kitchen facilities and technologically advanced meeting and workspace areas. The Customer Innovation Center is co-located with two state-of-the-industry production plants, equipped to take new products from concept to center-of-plate entrées without leaving the complex.
As the Customer Innovation Center comes online, the company is preparing customers in the restaurant, food service and retail sectors for a significant upgrade in their product development process — creating, testing and perfecting everything from entrée items to prepared poultry ingredients for recipe or retail applications. “Our customers are some of the largest food service and restaurant brands in the country — that’s a very competitive marketplace, and our Customer Innovation Center will help them be even more competitive,” said Clint Rivers, president and CEO of Wayne Farms. “This new facility reflects our company promise ... ‘Together, we make chicken amazing.’ We can work directly with our customers to develop amazing poultry products tested and ready to go into immediate production — a significant advantage when they go to market with a new concept or product.”
The 15,000 square foot facility is a showcase of food and culinary technology and includes ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook pilot plants, an ultra-modern and fully-operational culinary kitchen, conference room with the latest digital technology to allow virtual meetings for customers anywhere in the world, and an open work space environment for administrative staff. John Anderson, who directs research and development for the Customer Innovation Center, said the facility offers the kind of linear approach to product development that customers will quickly appreciate.
“We have everything we need to take an idea from concept to final prototype and then to scale for our customers,” said Anderson. “Our customers are already excited and we’ve just opened the doors.” The USDA-certified Customer Innovation Center was constructed adjacent to the Decatur east and west prepared foods facilities to integrate full-scale prototype development and final recipe production of ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook chicken products for customers.
The plants feature a 510 square-foot walk-in freezer and a 155 square foot walk-in cooler, raw dry storage space and spice room and technology and equipment needed to produce any product developed in the Customer Innovation Center. Products developed in the center are ready to go into full production and out to the marketplace.
The center’s mission of product creation, design and testing is supported by the culinary kitchen’s full array of state-of-the-art commercial food preparation equipment. Quick-disconnect fittings for gas, water and electrical appliances let Wayne Farms technicians set up the kitchen to replicate a customer’s commercial operation, right down to preparing and serving the final products.