Pinnacle Foods invests in R&D

Pinnacle Foods invests in R&D

Pinnacle Foods has opened an R&D pilot plant at Rutgers University in a move it said would increase its R&D capacity, improve speed to market and advance its "mission" to "reinvigorate iconic brands".

The plant will serve Pinnacle's Duncan Hines grocery division, which includes the Duncan Hines, Vlasic, Wishbone, Mrs Butterworth's and Log Cabin brands.

"We have been on a continuous mission to strengthen our R&D capabilities. The pilot plant is one more step in increasing our technical rigour," said Steve Gunther, SVP of R&D at Pinnacle. "We'll be able to execute experimental designs across our brands, studying various ingredient, process and package interactions without impacting our manufacturing facilities."

The pilot expands Pinnacle's collaboration with Rutgers, which began last year with the introduction of an undergraduate internship programme. 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.

Pinnacle entered into a merger agreement with Hillshire Brands last month. However, a counter bid for Hillshire from Tyson seems likely to scupper the tie-up. If Hillshire exits the agreement with Pinnicle, the group will have to pay an exit fee of US$163m.