Kroger has opened a state-of-the-art test kitchen and education center that will support the company's efforts to "redefine the grocery experience" under its Restock plan, officials said.
The Culinary Innovation Center, located in Kroger's Cincinnati hometown, will support and accelerate development of new recipes, brands and culinary concepts, as well as help train and educate associates, said Daniel Hammer, Kroger's VP of culinary development and new business.
"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," he said in a statement.
Kroger commenced construction on the 12,000-square-foot, LEED-designed center 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.
The innovation center comes after several other culinary ventures, including Kitchen 1883, which was opened in November 2017, and the launch of Prep+Pared Meal Kits. Kroger has also expressed plans to rapidly grow the footprint of Prep+Pared Meal Kits in 2018.
"Kroger has operated grocery stores since 1883; we know food," Hammer said. "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."