Pinnacle opens pilot plant at Rutgers
by Eric Schroeder
PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Pinnacle Foods Inc. has opened a research and development pilot plant at Rutgers University, a move the company believes will allow it to increase its R.&D. capabilities, scale up learnings for commercialization, further support brand renovation and productivity, and improve speed to market. The pilot plant has been designed for Pinnacle’s Duncan Hines Grocery Division, which includes such brands as Duncan Hines, Vlasic, Wish-Bone, Mrs. Butterworth’s and Log Cabin.
“We have been on a continuous mission to strengthen our R.&D. capabilities,” said Steve Gunther, senior vice-president of R.&D. at Pinnacle. “The pilot plant is one more step in increasing our technical rigor. We’ll be able to execute experimental designs across our brands, studying various ingredient, process and package interactions without impacting our manufacturing facilities.”
Pinnacle said the new pilot plant at Rutgers Food Innovation Center – North is its first university-affiliated pilot site and expands the company’s existing relationship with the institution that began last year through an undergraduate internship program. Through the expanded collaboration, Pinnacle said it will leverage the technologies of the university, partner with the food science, packaging and engineering departments, and have the opportunity to sponsor specific graduate research work to benefit both student learning and the company.
Fitted with equipment, the pilot plant will enable Pinnacle to replicate existing production processes at its Grocery Division plants and conduct consumer testing. Additionally, Pinnacle will be able to evaluate various process changes outside the plant environment and bring in equipment for testing. The plant is a U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration-inspected facility that will comply with Pinnacle’s quality, safety, training and standard operating protocols.