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Sara Lee Opens New R&D, Innovation Campus

The 120,000-square-foot research and development center is located at the company’s Downers Grove headquarters.

The Kitchens of Sara Lee houses more than 100 research and development professionals, including chefs, scientists, engineers and packaging designers. This marks the first time the company has had all of its North American food and beverage research and development capabilities under one roof.

“Our dedication to innovation, and in turn increasing consumer and customer value, has been an integral part of Sara Lee’s transformation,” said Brenda Barnes, chairman and chief executive officer of Sara Lee Corp. “Now, with The Kitchens of Sara Lee, we are fully equipped to turn consumer insights into products that differentiate us in the marketplace.”

The state-of-the-art features of the Kitchens of Sara Lee allow research and development teams to test product, processes and preparations before implementing mass production. Highlights include:
•    Foodservice Kitchens feature plug-and-play equipment that can be custom-arranged to replicate a quick-service restaurant or other foodservice operation.
•    Packaging Labs with rapid prototyping capabilities can shape plastic and paper prototypes in minutes and test packaging before suppliers begin production.
•    Meat Labs offer bench-top product formulation capabilities and also simulate Sara Lee plant processes to test product components and packaging prototypes before they enter full-scale production.
•    The Bakery Pilot Plant allows a better understanding of how formulas will translate to commercial-size facilities and offers new process testing and bench-top product formulation.
•    Sensory and Product Performance Labs assist with turning consumer insights into desired product attributes and scalable design that increases value to customers.

“Our vision is to be the most insightful, most innovative and most disciplined food company in the categories we operate in. The Kitchens of Sara Lee represents an exciting new stage for our innovation vision,” said Philippe Schaillee, vice president, marketing, strategy and research and development. “By connecting our consumer, customer and operator insights to the product development process, the new facility will enable our teams to increase success rates for new products.”

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