Agriculture News

November 3, 2016

Purdue opens state-of-the-art food product development laboratory

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A classroom in Purdue University's Philip E. Nelson Hall of Food Science has been renovated into a food product development laboratory comparable to those found at leading food manufacturers.

The new facility, funded by Skidmore Sales and Distributing, will help prepare students to work with the latest technology used in the industry and serve as a bridge between existing research laboratories and the department's pilot plant, allowing additional capacity for product preparation such as small batch blending and dry ingredient mixing for food product development.

The laboratory includes industrial cooktops and steamers donated by Cargill Inc. and Maple Leaf Farms. Keystone Architecture, Inc. completed the project.

At the dedication ceremony for the new facility, Brian Farkas, head of Purdue's Food Science Department, said the 820-square-foot space was designed with guidance from industry partners and corporate chefs.

"Experiential learning allows students to transition smoothly into their careers," Farkas said. "When I presented my vision of a food grade space that students could work in, faculty could teach in and entrepreneurs could work through problems on the ingredient side, Doug Skidmore wanted to hear more. That began our journey together to create this unique space, giving the experience to our students that so many of our recruiters expect."

Students will use the lab for coursework in product development, capstone and graduate case study classes, and ingredient technologies coursework, as well as competitions for the development of new products to address food insecurity.

"This is an example of what we value here at Purdue agriculture, which is giving students the ability to discover, to think and work creatively, to leave a legacy in the products they've created," said Marcos Fernandez, associate dean of agriculture and director of academic programs. "The Skidmore family has invested in an opportunity for nearly 160 undergrads and 90 graduate students now and many more beyond to use that imagination space in developing food products." 

Doug Skidmore, a Purdue alumnus and CEO of the Ohio-based company Skidmore Sales and Distributing, said the new facility would help prepare graduates for jobs in the industry.

"We are very excited to support the new laboratory," he said. "At Skidmore, our team of food science professionals helps our customers develop new products, so we know the challenges they face. Product development experience is crucial for success in today's market. This new lab will give students the opportunity to actually take a product development project from start to finish in an environment similar to what they would have in the industry."

A slideshow of images from the dedication of the new food product development laboratory is available on the Purdue Food Science website at

Writer: Cheri Frederick, 765-494-2406,

Source: Brian Farkas, 765-494-8256,

Agricultural Communications: (765) 494-8415;
Darrin Pack, 
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