Cargill Innovation Center
Tim Christensen, Cargill senior food technologist and master baker, works in the company’s recently expanded Food Innovation Center in Plymouth, Minn. Photo provided by Cargill.

Faced with tight margins and tough competition, many food and beverage manufacturers and foodservice companies have very limited R&D resources to come up with the products consumers want.

And that’s where Cargill's newly expanded Food Innovation Center in Plymouth, Minn., comes in. The newly expanded center is a unique environment where the company's own researchers work side-by-side with customers' staff in product research and development.

"We wanted to find the best way to satisfy the product research and development needs of our customers in food and beverage manufacturing and the foodservice industry," says Kerr Dow, Cargill v.p. of global food technology. "So, we designed a facility we believe will promote collaboration, accelerate innovation and help our customers reduce product development cycles."

Completely remodeled and doubled in size, Cargill's Plymouth Food Innovation Center offers retail and foodservice customers full access to state-of-the-art research equipment and the collective knowhow of its food scientists. The result: An innovation environment that reduces product development cycles and improves access to global market insights and technologies.

"This is a one-of-a-kind facility — and we believe it will give our customers a competitive advantage," Dow says.

Cargill will also bring the majority of its North American food and ingredient research staff together in the $5.5-million expansion, which doubled the square footage of the facility from 20,000 sq. ft. to 40,000 sq. ft..

The facility will help Cargill customers thrive by providing extensive ingredient expertise in numerous food categories, including snacks, cereal, bakery, confectionery, convenience, and frying applications.

The Food Innovation Center's highlights include:

  • Presentation space: A collaboration and presentation space that incorporates a fully equipped commercial kitchen for prototype preparation and culinary demonstrations.
  • Applications space: A state-of-the-art frying applications space measuring the performance of various blends of frying oils under controlled conditions.
  • Sensory Facility: A sensory facility housing descriptive analysis panels and consumer/panelist testing booths.
  • Oil research space: Significant oil ingredient development space devoted to R&D for a variety of fats and oils solutions.
  • Snacks, cereal and baking pilot area: A snacks, cereal and baking mix pilot area to scale up bench concepts to replicate production environments.
  • Bakery center: A bakery applications center facility including a host of commercial and specialized baking equipment.

Cargill's Food Innovation Center is the company's primary R&D facility serving food and beverage manufacturers and foodservice customers in North America. It is an integral part of Cargill's network of Global Cargill Innovation Centers, including the European and Latin American Food Innovation Centers.

In the past few years, Cargill opened innovation centers in Campinas, Brazil; Wichita, Kansas; and New Delhi, India; and has expanded its European Research and Development Center in Vilvoorde, Belgium. For more information, visit