Maple Leaf Foods Unveils State-of-the-Art Food Innovation Centre

    One-of-a-kind 25,000-square-foot facility cornerstone of innovation and

TORONTO, Oct. 6 /CNW/ - Maple Leaf Foods today revealed its ThinkFOOD! Centre, a state-of-the-art culinary innovation facility and the only one of its kind in Canada. It offers an unprecedented and 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, Ontario, 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 Mr. 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 customers
        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 dedicated employees, including internationally trained Chefs, Culinary Food Scientists, Microbiologists, Home Economists, Environmental Technologists, and Biologists.

Maple Leaf has also launched a new website at 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.

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is a leading Canadian food processing company. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, the Company employs approximately 24,000 people at its operations across Canada and in the United States, the United Kingdom and Asia. The Company had sales of $5.2 billion in 2008.

                       ThinkFOOD! Centre - Fact Sheet


The ThinkFOOD! Centre is the first facility of its kind in Canada offering an unprecedented and holistic approach to product development, brand innovation, food education, customer relationship development, consumer research, and monitoring global trends. This state-of-the-art culinary innovation centre is designed to foster collaboration among employees, customers and partners and to help accelerate innovation across Maple Leaf's global bakery and protein businesses. This food innovation hub also provides a central hands-on learning environment for Maple Leaf employees.


    -   Location: Meadowvale North Business Park, 6897 Financial Drive,
        Mississauga, Ontario
    -   Total Construction Cost: $12 million
    -   Capacity: The 25,000-square-foot ThinkFOOD! Centre's culinary
        facilities include a designated foodservice kitchen, sensory and
        product development areas, teaching facilities and a global culinary
        insight and trend library.
    -   Expertise: Nearly 60 employees, including Executive Chefs, Culinary
        Food Scientists, Microbiologists, Home Economists, Environmental
        Technologists, Biologists with international experience work at


    1.  ThinkFOOD! includes a number of presentation kitchens designed to
        highlight both the products and talents of Maple Leaf Foods and to
        involve customers directly in the product development process:
        -  Kitchen Stage provides space for 24 people around its recessed
           tasting bar and can be used to film commercials and live
        -  Back-of-House features portable food service cooking equipment and
           can be set up to simulate our customers' environments.
        -  Mom's Kitchen is equipped as an "average" consumer's kitchen and
           its adjacent viewing room allows us to conduct focus groups and
           ethnography studies in-house.

    2.  The ThinkFOOD! Reception area is equipped to host special events and
        corporate receptions. It features media towers that allow for
        simultaneously projection of 10 different streams of information,
        emphasizing Maple Leaf's commitment to innovation and our passion for

    3.  The FORUM, ThinkFOOD!'s theatre, is ideal for large meetings and
        education and training sessions with a seating capacity of 124, full
        audio-visual and broadcast capability, and a state-of-the-art food
        service island for large demonstrations.

    4.  Information Café is both a physical and virtual resource centre with
        a dedicated food information librarian. Its books, magazines,
        scientific journals and periodicals can be accessed in person in the
        relaxed environment of the in-house library complete with comfortable
        furnishings and small chat rooms. These same resources can be
        accessed company-wide by an on-line information system managed from

    5.  Marketplace offers a simulated retail environment with refrigerated
        display units, bakery racks, and a full service deli counter. This
        area enables Maple Leaf to work with our retail customers on
        merchandising and shelf planning as well as category and department

    6.  Open Kitchen is the heart of the ThinkFOOD! facility. Featuring fully
        equipped, independent workspaces for 24 product developers, it
        supports collaboration in an open environment with all of the
        necessary culinary and scientific tools required for them to
        innovate. Open Kitchen is used by developers across all Maple Leaf's
        business units.

    7.  The Centre has a number of labs including:
        -  Innovation Labs with flexible furnishings designed specifically
           for ideation sessions.
        -  A Development Lab in which innovators develop product from both
           raw and cooked stages through to packaging, in an environment that
           meets regulatory standards.

    8.  The Testing Bar is a dedicated space for sensory panels.

Environmentally Responsible Construction

The ThinkFOOD! Centre is an excellent example of a green building project that balances environmental concerns with occupant comfort and well-being and construction economics. In an effort to exceed industry standards, this building contains sustainable features in all five of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED(TM)) rating system categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.

    The building features :

    -   A TPO white roof reflects the sun to reduce the heat island effect.
    -   The installation of low-flow fixtures and waterless urinals that
        result in a 40% more efficient use of water.
    -   Advanced HVAC/mechanical systems and high-efficiency boilers with 20%
        greater energy efficiency.
    -   A ventilation system designed with demand control based on occupant
        load so energy is conserved when the building has partial occupancy.
    -   Fan-powered boxes promote superior indoor air quality due to the
        constant air changes while minimizing energy.
    -   Advanced lighting controls use less than one watt per square foot for
    -   Green energy will be purchased for base system loads.
    -   More than 50% of waste diverted from landfill during construction.
    -   More than 20% of building materials used were regional, and at least
        20% recycled.
    -   Perennial ornamental grasses that do not require mowing or irrigation
        were used in the islands in the parking lot instead of turf.
    -   Management practices including green cleaning specifications and
        recycling programs that include food waste and organics with
        diversion from landfill targets of over 80% along with tenant
        education programs.
    -   Parking spaces for energy efficient vehicles, car pool parking spaces
        and bike racks.

SOURCE Maple Leaf Foods Inc.

For further information: For further information: Maple Leaf Media Hotline, (416) 926-2020; Caroline Spivak, (416) 371-9740,

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