DOWNERS GROVE, ILL. — Sara Lee Corp. has opened The Kitchens of Sara Lee, its new North American innovation campus. The 120,000-square-foot research and development center, located at the company’s headquarters in Downers Grove, Ill., houses more than 100 research and development professionals, including chefs, scientists, engineers and packaging designers.

The facility serves as headquarters for all of the company’s North American food and beverage research and development capabilities under one roof, the company said.

"Our dedication to innovation, and in turn increasing consumer and customer value, has been an integral part of Sara Lee’s transformation," said Brenda Barnes, chairman and chief executive officer of Sara Lee Corp. "Now, with The Kitchens of Sara Lee, we are fully equipped to turn consumer insights into products that differentiate us in the marketplace."

The features of the Kitchens of Sara Lee allow R&D teams to test product, processes and preparations before implementing mass production. The facility includes meat labs, packaging labs, foodservice-style kitchens and sensory assessment capabilities.

"Our vision is to be the most insightful, most innovative and most disciplined food company in the categories we operate in," said Philippe Schaillee, vice-president, marketing, strategy and research and development. "The Kitchens of Sara Lee represents an exciting new stage for our innovation vision. By connecting our consumer, customer and operator insights to the product development process, the new facility will enable our teams to increase success rates for new products."