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BAKERSFIELD, CA — Bolthouse Farms, a leading fresh carrot grower-shipper, unveiled a new state-of-the-art facility that will promote new product development and enhance the company's portfolio of existing products, which includes a line of beverages and salad dressings.

The company's new Innovation Center was celebrated during a grand opening ceremony Jan. 16, here.

"No doubt, this takes us to another level of innovation, which requires a tremendous amount of collaboration," said Todd Putman, chief marketing officer of Bolthouse Farms. IMG 5406Scott LaPorta, Bolthouse Farms' chief operating officer and chief financial officer, welcomed a crowd of over 50 visitors, including industry partners and political dignitaries to the unveiling of the company's $5 million state-of-the-art Innovation Center in Bakersfield, CA. (Photo by Ed Boling) "Creating something totally new to the market, like baby carrot 'Shakedowns,' will be accelerated by the proximity our new Innovation Center provides."

The center will integrate marketing and research to create new products intended to help consumers make healthy food choices.

"The Innovation Center ... enables us to further enhance how healthier foods, beverages and snacks are developed and marketed," said Jeff Dunn, chief executive officer of Bolthouse Farms. "Our investment in consumer research and new innovations in food science will enable us to attract additional world-class talent to increase consumers' access to high-quality, nutritious and affordable products."

Bolthouse Farms is a market share leader in growing and distributing carrots. In addition, the firm produces and sells super-premium juices, smoothies, protein shakes and café beverages under the "Bolthouse Farms" brand name.

In recent years, Bolthouse Farms diversified its offerings by launching a line of premium refrigerated yogurt dressings and extra virgin olive oil vinaigrettes.

The $5 million Innovation Center houses several test kitchens and a sensory center, which will allow product developers to utilize advanced technologies as they research food and beverage ingredients and products.

For example, in one research project, Kamal Aboshamaa, vice president of research and development at Bolthouse, is working to extend shelf life. The sensory center allows Bolthouse scientists to compare one-month old produce to one-week old produce.

The 17,900-square-foot complex is currently staffed with 40 employees. The center will greatly expand the potential number of products Bolthouse Farms brings to market on an annual basis and enable the introduction of completely new product categories.

"Bolthouse is the fastest-growing super-premium juice company in the United States," Mr. LaPorta said. "We grew over 30 percent last year. We are focused on fresh, high-quality, fun products."

"Why should junk-food guys have all the fun?" Why can't we have some of that fun with fresh produce?" Mr. Putman added. "Seventy percent of healthcare costs come from making bad lifestyle choices. We need to deliver produce that meets emotional needs rather than just rational, because public education has not worked. We've got to change our processes and our products. The way to sell a carrot going forward is different than how it's been."