The Kroger Co. has opened its new test kitchen and training facility in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, called the Culinary Innovation Center.
Among the benefits of the new center for Kroger is the ability to grow its Prep+Pared Meal Kits this year, in both flavors and footprint.
Daniel Hammer, Kroger’s VP of culinary development and new business, said, “As we focus on redefining the customer experience and developing talent through food inspiration and uplift, as outlined in Restock Kroger, this R&D lab will allow us to accelerate product development for Our Brands, produce new recipes for Prep + Pared Meal Kits, explore new restaurant concepts, host food tastings and focus groups, and increase our associates’ culinary knowledge.”
Construction on the 12,000-s.f., LEED-designed center got under way in March 2017.
The commercial kitchen features multiple cooking stations, spaces and capabilities, including technology that allows video streaming of educational sessions to Kroger associates across the country.
“The Center gives our culinary team a fun, modern space to innovate and experiment with food trends, flavors and ingredients to create new experiences for our customers,” Hammer added.
Kroger introduced its first restaurant concept, Kitchen 1883 (for the year Kroger was founded), last November and launched its Prep+Pared Meal Kits earlier in 2017, which are available for purchase in stores and through ClickList.
“Kroger has operated grocery stores since 1883; we know food. People will always eat, but the way they eat will always change. Our new Center is one more tool we have to keep our pulse on customer trends and expand our foodie culture,” he said.
Kroger’s 453,000 associates serve nearly 9 million customers in 2,793 retail food stores under a variety of local banner names in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Its services include ClickList—a personalized order online service—in addition to 2,258 pharmacies, 783 convenience stores, 307 fine jewelry stores, 222 retail health clinics, 1,472 supermarket fuel centers and 38 food production plants.