The center, which is located on the site of Sabra’s hummus manufacturing facility—the world’s largest, the company says—will further research capabilities and improve Sabra’s products in all aspects of food manufacturing and distribution, from agriculture, nutrition and food science to engineering, packaging and product delivery, according to a news release.
The COE supports Sabra and the international venture between PepsiCo and Strauss Group called Obela. The center is the first-of-its-kind research and development center for refrigerated dips and spreads.
“We are honored to partner with Obela to push the envelope in research and development, opening a world of possibilities in dips and spreads in terms of innovation, taste, health and more,” says Ronen Zohar, CEO of Sabra Dipping Co. “The potential is as promising as it is delicious.”
The COE features a state of the art culinary center, research laboratory, ideation space, a pilot plant and hands-on research modules, and will house experts in culinary arts, food technology and nutrition who will conduct research on chickpeas, fruits and vegetables. Some research will be done in conjunction with local Virginia universities.
“The Center of Excellence is now home to experts in all areas of food manufacturing and we are eager to put our findings to work as we continue to change the way consumers around the world dip and spread,” says Tulin Tuzel, chief technology officer of Sabra/Obela. “As we build on our heritage to invent the future, we will continue to be inspired by global advances in food production and aim to further our leadership within the category. This marks a significant step forward in our pursuit to bring the diversity of the world to life through an array of fresh tasting, real and wholesome products.”
As it looks to expand beyond Mexico and Australia, the COE in Virginia will enable Obela to leverage experience from the U.S. market to meet the needs of communities globally. Obela launched in Mexico in June of 2012 with three varieties of hummus (chipotle, red pepper and plain).
Sabra also broke ground on the next phase of expansion of its existing manufacturing facility, an $86 million investment to meet the continued increasing demands for its hummus. The company expects the addition of capacity will create an estimated additional 140 jobs over the next few years. Sabra says it currently holds approximately 60 percent of the refrigerated flavored dips category in the U.S.