It offers an holistic approach to creative thinking and collaboration to facilitate accelerated innovation and growth across Maple Leaf's global bakery and protein businesses.
The centre will be the hub where company experts in product development, brand innovation, food education, customer relationship development, consumer research and global trend tracking come together to share new product ideas and identify joint opportunities to bring innovation to life.
"We've created an innovative environment where all of our food innovators can work together under one roof in collaboration with customers and increase the speed-to-market for introducing exciting new food ideas from around the world," said Michael McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods. "ThinkFOOD! is a place where we draw inspiration from a global food basket of ideas and innovate to create products that will delight the palates of our consumers and customers."
The $12 million centre occupies 25,000 square feet on the campus of Maple Leaf's corporate offices in Mississauga, Ont., and operates as the company's product development hub, supporting customer research and product testing. ThinkFOOD! was designed to provide a central hands-on learning environment where employees can develop, share and collaborate on new food concepts with foodservice and retail customers.
"ThinkFOOD! represents Maple Leaf's commitment to innovation, a key underpinning of our growth strategy," said McCain. "The centre is a hub for collaboration on great food and menu ideas, and a place where our employees are empowered to inspire, innovate and grow new areas to satisfy consumer tastes and build on our company culture that is passionate about food."
The centre's culinary amenities include presentation kitchens, teaching and demonstration facilities, research labs, product development and sensory testing areas, simulated retail environments, and trends resource library. Highlights include:
- Open Kitchen, a dedicated area for product development specialists to develop and test new technologies, processes and products.
- Back of House Kitchen, a dedicated food service demonstration kitchen, allows Maple Leaf to collaborate with food service customer on product development in an environment that can be replicated to mirror the customer's own facilities.
- Kitchen Stage, a retail demonstration kitchen, provides the opportunity for direct customer involvement in the product development process.
- Marketplace offers a simulated retail environment with refrigerated display units, bakery racks and a full service deli counter. Here Maple Leaf can work with retail customers on merchandising and shelf planning as well as category and department strategies.
- Innovation and development labs that allow innovators to develop product from both raw and cooked stages through to packaging, in an environment that meets regulatory standards.
ThinkFOOD! is home to nearly 60 employees, including internationally trained chefs, culinary food scientists, microbiologists, home economists, environmental technologists, and biologists.
Leaf has also launched a new website, www.mapleleaf.com, which delivers an improved
online experience for consumers. The rich consumer experience provides a
virtual market of wonderful food and great tasting meal solutions offered by
Maple Leaf Foods with tips and solutions from Company experts represented by
the Butcher, Baker, Pasta Maker and Meals Made Easy.