The NC Food Innovation Lab (NCFIL) will open on November 14, with a ribbon cutting, facility tour, and open house celebration. NCFIL is a 16,000-square-foot plant-based food processing and product development facility located on the 350-acre North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, N.C. This pilot-scale facility will serve as a catalyst for plant-based food research and food manufacturing.

“NCFIL’s strength is in its versatility—this facility will succeed with a wide variety of customers with unique needs and objectives,” said Bill Aimutis, executive director, NCFIL. “We’ll be able to support startup companies working to get new products to market; established companies seeking to expand product lines; and equipment manufacturers looking to demonstrate new equipment capability.”

North Carolina’s agriculture and agribusinesses already account for $91.8 billion of the state’s annual gross domestic product and 17% of all jobs. North Carolina farmers grow 90+ crops in over 400 different soil types, and the state is a top 10 producer in 19 commodities. NCFIL will support the development of value-added food products made from North Carolina-grown crops.

In 2014, the North Carolina General Assembly commissioned an economic feasibility study to evaluate food manufacturing’s potential in the state. The study predicted that in less than 10 years, food manufacturing could contribute an additional 38,000 jobs and $10.3 billion boost to the state income annually, if key recommendations were realized. In 2015, Governor Pat McCrory formed a Food Manufacturing Task Force with 35 thought leaders representing various aspects of North Carolina’s food system to investigate how the state could seek economic opportunities in this area. NCFIL was one of the key recommendations of these leaders.

Press release (pdf)

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