BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Wm. Bolthouse Farms Inc. has unveiled a $5-million Innovation Center that will house the company’s marketing department as well as develop new, health-oriented products.

The center is designed to accelerate the development of new, all-natural products at the same time that it enhances its existing product line of fresh carrots, salad dressings and beverages, said Todd Putman, chief marketing officer.

The marketing department is based at the nearly 18,000-square-foot center because, “That’s really where the ideas come from,” he said. “They’re talking all the time with different consumers and different customers trying to find out what their needs, wants and whims are.”

Bolthouse Farms unveils Innovation CenterMarketers will bring in suggestions, ask the research and development staff to develop those ideas and then turn them over to the operations people to bring them to life, Putman said.

Besides research and development labs, the center has a “sensory area” where consumers and employees can try the new products.

Kamal Aboshamaa, vice president, research and development, heads up the facility, which employs about 40 scientists.

The center will greatly expand the potential number of products Bolthouse Farms brings to market each year and will introduce a number of new product platforms, Putman said.

An example of a new offering from the Innovation Center is Bolthouse Farms Baby Carrot ShakeDowns — 2.25-ounce packages of baby carrots that come with a separate seasoning packet (chili lime, ranch or salsa flavors) that can be shaken over the carrots.

Bolthouse Farms unveils Innovation CenterThe product was developed at the center and currently is being perfected there as it is test marketed. It should roll out nationally later this year.

“This Innovation Center reflects Bolthouse Farms’ commitment to bringing fresh, high-quality, fun products to the marketplace,” said Scott LaPorta, chief operating officer.

He said he hoped innovations like the center “will inspire even more of some the best and brightest food scientists and nutrition professionals in the industry to join us.”

The company was acquired by Camden, N.J.-based Campbell Soup Co. over the summer, and Putman said he expects that company’s scientists and nutritionists to help develop new products at Bolthouse Farms.

“We’re beginning to see all the resources that we can tap into in the Campbell’s global portfolio,” he said.

Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall was among several dignitaries on hand for the official ribbon cutting Jan. 16.

The mayor presented the company with a certificate of appreciation for its dedication to “changing the perception of health-food brands and promoting the accelerated growth of all-natural products.”