This fall, Ahold Delhaize USA’s Retail Business Services (RBS) unit plans to open a fresh food processing facility and culinary innovation center in Rhode Island.
RBS said its Infinity Fresh Kitchen subsidiary acquired the facility, located at 320 Commerce Park Rd. in North Kingstown, R.I., from fresh-cut produce supplier Taylor Farms. Construction is under way to outfit the building for Infinity Fresh Kitchen, and operations are slated to begin in September.
Plans call for the new fresh kitchen to initially serve Hannaford and Stop & Shop supermarkets in the area. The facility will process fresh foods such as cut fruit and vegetables; leaf, grain and pasta salads; sandwiches and wraps; and other items typically found in grocery store deli departments or grab-and-go sections.
“Retail Business Services is charged with finding innovative solutions that enable the local grocery brands we support to focus on serving their customers,” RBS President Roger Wheeler said in a statement. “Infinity Fresh Kitchen is the latest example of this innovation, which will help our retail partners bring the latest fresh, convenient items to their customers.”
Besides boosting capacity for processing fresh food items, the North Kingstown facility will test new fresh and private-brand food concepts in its Culinary Innovation Center.
“We want to create food items that perfect the expected and delight consumers with the unexpected,” according to Jacqueline Ross, vice president of private-brands innovation for RBS. “We’re excited to allocate a portion of the space in this facility to private-brand product innovation, particularly fresh, nutritious items and preparations.”
RBS has named Taylor Farms as a strategic partner to manage the fresh kitchen and innovation center’s operations and workforce. Once up and running, the facility is expected to initially bring about 250 jobs in the area, with more positions added over time.
“We’re pleased to work with Retail Business Services on this innovative facility,” said Bruce Taylor, CEO of Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms. “We look forward to completing the outfitting of the facility and getting operations under way in the coming months.”
Also in North Kingstown, RBS is building a fresh protein packaging plant. To be operated by subsidiary Infinity Meat Solutions, the 200,000-square-foot facility will handle beef, ground beef, pork and prepared meat for meal items, such as marinated and stuffed meat.
Plans call for the meat packaging plant to initially serve the Peapod online grocery service and Stop & Shop in the Northeast. RBS expects the facility, which will have the capacity to service 500 or more stores, to go into operation in the first half of 2020. Ground was broken for the $100 million project in October.
Salisbury, N.C.-based RBS provides Ahold Delhaize USA grocery retail brands — Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s, Hannaford, Food Lion and Peapod — with services and support in merchandising, marketing, private label, store operations, IT, pharmacy, sourcing, financial, communications, supply chain and other areas.