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SAN FRANCISCO — In a move to strengthen its commitment to product innovation and market leadership, Diamond Foods Inc. has opened the doors to its new innovation center in Salem, Ore.
The 7,000-square foot facility is located adjacent to the Kettle Brand potato chip facility, and will drive innovation for new product offerings for Diamond’s family brands, which include Kettle Brand, Pop Secret, Emerald Nuts and century-old Diamond of California.
The new center features an R&D kitchen and lab for product production, product sampling and preparation process simulation. There is also a concept room for ideation and customer meetings, as well as a sensory evaluation center for real-time product testing with consumers.
By using this new facility, the Diamond team is already finalizing products that will soon be in the marketplace, following recent launches including Kettle Brand Pepperoncini and Dill Pickle flavored potato chips and Emerald Raspberry Glazed almonds.
In a company news release, Diamond said its innovation specialists team was given the goal to create a “true product design house” that was not only limited to food scientists and sensory specialists, but also marketing, packaging and regulatory experts who develop product ideas across many platforms. The early stage collaboration is designed to enable the team to carefully develop products that meet consumers' needs while also facilitating speed to market.
"We are not just putting a stake in the ground, but an entire foundation and infrastructure committed to innovation and market leadership, as well as an experienced forward-thinking team to take advantage of it," said Brian Driscoll, Diamond Foods president and CEO. "Several retail customers have already visited the innovation center for joint collaboration meetings and recognize the potential for new product development this facility and the team affords."
Diamond worked with Portland, Ore.-based ZGF Architects to design the building to obtain state-of-the-art research and a development facility that would reflect the surrounding natural habitat. The building’s exterior is clad in natural, steam-treated pine and Douglas fir, and the front of the building folds inward to provide shade and daylight based on the sun’s direction. It also has an energy-conscious ventilation system among other features to reduce energy consumption, and a custom-designed rain gardens manage waste and storm water run-off to help preserve the nearby wetland.