Campbell Soup and Pepperidge Farm executives broke ground on a 34,000-square-foot innovation center in a ceremony at Pepperidge Farm’s headquarters in Norwalk, Conn.

Officials say the $30-million investment supports Campbell’s strategy of driving growth in baked snacks. It also reflects the company’s efforts to accelerate innovation across its Baking and Snacking portfolio. That portfolio includes such products as frozen Puff Pastry, frozen garlic loaves and Texas toast and Ecce Panis® frozen gourmet artisan breads.

Campbell President and Chief Executive Officer Denise Morrison and Pepperidge Farm President Pat Callaghan were joined by Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia and other state and local officials to celebrate the commencement of the project.

“Pepperidge Farm has a long track record of innovation, and this project is key to our plans to accelerate the rate of innovation in baked snacks," said Morrison. "The center is designed to foster greater collaboration and creativity in a setting where we can combine our culinary and baking expertise with our understanding of consumers’ needs.”

The innovation center will house a state-of-the-art pilot plant with product development and testing lines, culinary kitchens, scientific labs and meeting rooms. Officials say this will enable Pepperidge Farm employees to conduct initial research and testing of new product concepts in a more convenient and cost effective way and deliver new innovative products to the marketplace faster than in the past.

“Pepperidge Farm was actually founded on innovation in 1937 by Margaret Rudkin, a 40-year-old homemaker living on a property called Pepperidge Farm. That was where she began baking and perfecting the all natural, whole grain bread that launched our organization,” said Callaghan. “The new facility will allow us to continue answering the question that Margaret was famous for asking: ‘What’s Next?’”

Once the new facility is completed in fall 2012, Pepperidge Farm’s headquarters will include approximately 115,000 square feet of office and research and development space. The company also leases 33,500 square feet of space at Norwalk’s Norden Place Office Park.