The $45 million facility, opened in mid-January and unveiled this week, has been hailed as a "hub of food innovation" by Richard Bond, Tyson president and CEO. "Our food innovation teams collaborate with customers to research consumer needs, then design and test new products and packaging. We can then produce products on a test basis in a real-life manufacturing environment," said Hal Carper, senior vice president of corporate R&D in a statement. Covering 100,000 square feet, the facility, which replaces three smaller facilities center, houses 19 specialized research kitchens, a multi-protein pilot plant, a packaging innovation lab, a sensory analysis lab and consumer focus group capabilities. "We believe there is no other research and development facility like it anywhere in the world," said Bond. The facility replaces three smaller facilities, and allows the company to produce "value-added products", executives said. The center is designed to enhance Tyson's collaborations and will boost the creation of new foods. Indeed, a specially designed "sensory" area where testing panels sample and view new products is incorporated into the center. Panelists enter their responses on computer screens, enabling staff to tabulate the results rapidly and gain guidance in further product refinement. Tyson Foods is the world's largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork, the second-largest food production company, and produces a wide variety of protein-based and prepared food products.