CRANBURY, N.J. — The Archer Daniels Midland Co. opened its new Flavor Creation and Customer Innovation facility in Cranbury on March 23. The new space features a beverage bar, laboratory and a pilot plant.

The space is designed to allow the company’s customers to be involved in the process of developing new products and applications, and it is complete with a work area where visitors may stay connected with their offices during a visit, according to the company.

Marie Wright, v.p. and chief global flavorist for ADM

“The flavor and product development process tend to be more successful when we have the opportunity to work with our customers,” said Marie Wright, vice-president and chief global flavorist for ADM, in an interview with Food Business News.

It has taken approximately a year for the new innovation center to go from concept to grand opening, and Ms. Wright said the facility allows product developers to keep pace with a food culture where trends are developing at a faster pace than a decade ago.

“It is an exciting time to be in the industry,” she said. “It is challenging, because the consumer is placing more pressure on companies to develop products without ingredients with chemical names that are clean label.

“When I entered the industry trends mainly came from white table-cloth restaurants. Today, they are coming from social media and food trucks. Ten years ago I could not imagine eating from a food truck. Now, I look for them whenever I visit a city.”

Beyond clean label, Ms. Wright identified freshness as a key trend.

“Fresh is big,” she said. “Consumers want products that taste fresh and deliver the experience they are looking for.”

To deliver those flavors, she said such technologies as cold pressing and high pressure processing will be aids in the ingredient development process.

“Today, we are able to develop ingredients that are more pure and concentrated,” she said. “Look at tea extracts, for example. Ten years ago they were weak and wishy washy. Now, with technology applied, we have beautiful tea extracts that deliver distinct flavors.”

Ms. Wright added that while consumers may want fresh, clean label products, they also want safe products.

“At the end of the day, even though all of the talk may be about clean label and natural, the products have to be safe,” she said. “You still need science and it needs to be applied in a way that delivers taste and safety.”