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Kerry’s new innovation center targets strong ‘need for development’

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 29-Jun-2009

Kerry Group has opened a $50m innovation and technical center in Beloit, Wisconsin to respond to its customers’ continued demand for innovative products.

The 250,000 square foot center will provide industry access to Kerry’s ingredient and flavor technologies through sensory services, facilities to develop applications and pilot production facilities, as part of what the company calls its ‘go-to-market’ strategy.

Kerry Group’s director of corporate affairs Frank Hayes told FoodNavigator-USA.com that the company began planning for the new center in early 2006, and said the timing of its completion, in the midst of global economic downturn, is positive.

“The need for development has never been as strong,” he said. “All our major customers are seeking to align their product offerings with today’s market environment.”

Areas for innovation

Although part of that alignment might mean reformulating products with less expensive ingredients, Hayes added: “Health and wellness concerns haven’t gone away and concerns vis à vis natural flavorings are now more pronounced than ever…There has certainly been no slowdown in terms of the need for development.”

He said that concerns about food safety and extending product shelf life would also remain “constant”.

“Advances continue to be made in all these areas,” he said.

Midwest focal point

In addition, Kerry Group had several reasons for locating the center in the Midwest.

“The leading food and beverage companies have strong bases in the Midwest,” said Hayes. “It’s a strong focal point from their point of view, as well as from ours…From the point of view of the Americas market, a lot of our food and technologies were centered on the Midwest. And quite a few of our technologists were based in or near to Beloit.”

Speaking at the official opening of the new center last Tuesday, Kerry Group chief executive Stan McCarthy said: “Today’s consumer markets and changing food and beverage consumption trends call for renewed vigor in product innovation and development of cost effective product solutions and menu offerings. Kerry’s systems approach to innovation capitalizes on our breadth of ingredients and flavors technologies and unique end-use-market applications capability.”

The company also has major innovation centers in Ireland, the Netherlands and China.

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