The Client Services Area includes a Product Development Research Kitchen and Sensory Evaluation Center, Microbiology and Analytical Laboratories, Consumer Research and Focus Group Area, Training and Education Conference Rooms and Library, and Office and Administrative Support. More information on these areas is as follows:
Product Development Research Kitchen – This Research Kitchen performs basic research and bench-top formulation development so that clients can develop cost-effective and technically feasible products, and manufacture them with assurance of safety and quality. Staff assists clients in areas such as:
- Specialty product development and manufacturing, including organic, gluten-free, kosher, halal and other needs.
- Product development from culled, undervalued, and surplus agricultural commodities in order to create value-added products from lower grade raw materials that may otherwise be destroyed.
- Nutraceutical and functional food product development.
- Testing for formulation hurdle technology development, evaluating acidulants, antimicrobial agents, antioxidant systems, chemical wash aids and other treatments for vegetable and fruit sanitation and other needs.
- Testing for thermal processing hurdle technology development, evaluating hot fill/quick chill processing, sous vide post pasteurization, and other technologies
Conducting of testing for clients, such as instructions for product preparation in a standard oven, convection oven, and/or a variety of microwave ovens
Sensory Evaluation Center – Sensory evaluation booths are located adjacent to the product development research kitchen. These taste panel facilities are available for food processors desiring scientifically conducted, unbiased evaluations of their food products.
Microbiology Laboratory - The Microbiology Laboratory conducts analysis of finished products, raw materials, and environmental areas for routine required testing, and assists in the training of clients regarding sanitary practices. Shelf life studies, at different storage temperatures, are conducted for client products, and quantify the impacts of preservation technologies that are utilized.
Analytical Laboratory - This laboratory performs routine food chemistry testing, including analysis for pH, titratable acidity, salt content, solids content, brix, colorimetry, and other methods deemed helpful to clients. In addition, this lab conducts nutrition analysis testing, and provides guidance to clients concerning compliance of packaging labels, as required by FDA, USDA, exporting and importing authorities, and others. It also assists clients with package design, including primary, secondary and tertiary packaging needs, pallet configurations, etc.
Consumer Research and Focus Group Area – The Food Innovation Center has the capabilities to conduct consumer research and focus groups, in which an opinion-seeking panel discussion is created and where consumers are asked to share their ideas about new products or services. Its purposes can be varied - including brainstorming new ideas; tasting new products; and researching advertisements and marketing messages. Groups usually consist of 8 to 12 people who join in a discussion led by a trained moderator. The focus group facility is equipped with a client viewing room separated by a one way mirror. Audio and video taping is available.
Training and Education Conference Room - The Training and Education Area is outfitted with state of the art teleconferencing and distance learning capabilities linking the Food Innovation Center facility to the main campus of Rutgers University and satellite locations throughout rural southern New Jersey, and elsewhere in the nation as well.
Resource Center and Library - The library is a resource to staff and clients alike, providing access to extensive business and technical information. In addition two computer workstations enable client research and access to the Rutgers University library system.
Administrative Support Area and Client and Staff Offices – The Food Innovation Center also provides office areas that are rented inexpensively to clients. This way, clients have the option to move both their processing and administrative functions into the Center’s facility if desired. All of the client offices are fully furnished, and clients have access to the facility receptionist, telephone system, photocopying machines, and other services.