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One of the world's most advanced food innovation facilities is set to open on July 15. Located at 300 West 1st Street North in Wichita, Kansas, the $14.7 million Cargill Innovation Center houses research, development, culinary, laboratory, pilot plant and distribution capabilities focused on helping Cargill's retail and food service customers grow their businesses by meeting the needs of domestic and international consumers who enjoy eating meat products.
"This is a discovery zone, a place where the art and science of food intersect to advance food quality, nutrition, meat production, food safety and packaging, while also employing a creative flair in the areas of new product development and finding solutions to meet our customers' needs and expectations," said Scott Eilert, VP of research and development who oversees the facility. "As the name implies, this facility and the people who work here are all about innovation that makes a difference to our customers and consumers who buy from them. We take pride in helping our customers succeed, as well as feeding a world population with an increasing appetite for nutritious, quality, flavorful, safe and affordable protein."
The 75,000-square-foot innovation center is located one block away from the headquarters of several Cargill businesses it supports, which include the second largest beef processor in the U.S., third largest turkey processor and forth largest pork processor, in addition to a business that serves the food service industry, another that distributes food to small retailers, one that is responsible for much of the ground beef Americans eat, and another that produces case-ready products for retail customers. The innovation center also works closely with several other Cargill businesses, such as its salt, egg, dressings, sauces, oils and food ingredients groups.
"Additionally, our new Wichita innovation center is a full-service research and development facility, which means we also have the capability to work on food safety initiatives," explained Eilert. "We are passionate about food safety because we believe people have the right to consume safe food."
Approximately 70 people are employed at the innovation center, including professional chefs who work with customers to develop new products and demonstrate the way existing ones can be better prepared and used.
First conceptualized in 2009, the Wichita Cargill Innovation Center came to fruition through a cooperative effort that included the city of Wichita, Mayor Carl Brewer's office, Sedgwick County, the state of Kansas, the Kansas Bioscience Authority, greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC), Wichita Downtown Development Cooperation (WDDC), JP Weigand Commercial Properties and contractors Arco national Construction Company, Inc. and GMA Design Group Inc., both of St. Louis.