Tyson Foods’ Discovery Center is located in Springdale in Arkansas, US. The construction of the centre began in 2004 and was completed in 2007. It was built on a 16-acre site and covers an area of 285,000ft².

During the construction of the centre, Tyson Foods decided to add a new 174,000ft² office building to the project in 2006. The original cost of the project was estimated at around $40-50m, however, it increased to $85-95m with the addition of the office building.

The centre is primarily used to develop food products for Tyson Foods’ customers, who include retailers, club units, quick service restaurants and convenience stores. Considered a hub of food innovation, the centre helps in reducing the time of availability of new food products.

Tyson Foods’ Discovery Center construction

The main architect of the project, HOK Architects, recommended a rain screen design for the Discovery Center to prevent the entry of moisture into the building. WallShield, manufactured by VaproShield, was used for the rain screen design. WallShield is a weather-resistant vapour and air-permeable material.

Modern materials were used to enhance the appearance of the building. Materials such as glass, aluminium, burnt orange Trespa panels and metal panels were used for the construction. The design of the building provides scope for future expansion.

Discovery Center design

The Discovery Center includes three components: a product development kitchen building, a USDA-inspected pilot plant and a four-storey office building. It has 19 specialised research kitchens, which occupy an area of 20,000ft². The research kitchens are meant for new product development.

“Tyson Foods’ Discovery Center is located in Springdale in Arkansas, US.”

Some of the 19 kitchens include a retail presentation kitchen, case ready kitchen, food service presentation kitchen and a kitchen of the future. A customer kitchen, which is similar to a home kitchen, is also part of the centre.

The kitchens were designed in such a way to provide technical flexibility to the researchers. The design also helps in increasing culinary effectiveness.

A few of the kitchens can be viewed remotely, enabling customers and the company’s marketing team to observe product development from any part of the world.

The Discovery Center’s USDA-inspected pilot plant covers an area of 40,000ft². The plant tests various elements involved in the product development process. It helps in eliminating errors and inefficiencies, which occur during the product development process and hence reduces wastage costs.

The plant features equipment similar to those used during the actual production process. As a result the production process can be duplicated in the plant itself. The pilot plant also consists of a viewing gallery, exclusively designed for guests and customers. The purpose of the gallery is to provide a view of the product development process without actually entering into a food safe zone.

The office building of the facility is used to provide training to the employees on leadership, management and job functions. Other facilities include a packaging innovation lab and a sensory testing area.

The packaging innovation lab is used for assembling the components of packaging mock-ups developed at the facility. The sensory testing area is used by expert panels that view and sample the new products developed at the centre. A meat case of the future used to display meat and meal solutions is also part of the facility.

Innovative food products

“Modern materials were used to enhance the appearance of the building.”

The aim of Tyson Foods’ Discovery Center is to create innovative food products that meet the needs of consumers.

The equipment and technology installed in the Discovery Center provide ample scope for testing and evaluating the shelf-life of the new food products developed.

Product development at the facility starts with the preparation of small samples of new food products based on the concept outlined by the customer. Once the concept is finalised, commercialised samples are prepared in the pilot plant by R&D scientists on the same day. A focus group then tests and evaluates these samples.

Based on the feedback received from the focus group, additional samples are prepared and presented to the customers. The entire process is completed within a week and the customers receive feedback on the production capability of the new product.

Discovery Centre contractors

Kansas-based Crossland Construction offered its construction management services for the Discovery Center. Missouri-based HOK Architects and PBA Architects, based in Kansas, were the architects for the project.