Pittsburgh, Pa., retailerGiant Eagle Inc. opened a refrigerated foods plant in Freedom, Pa., to process and supply refrigerated fresh-cut fruit, soups and other products to area stores, according to the PittsburghPost-Gazette.

The newspaper toured Giant Eagle's 170,000-square-foot operation, which previously was used by various food distributors. The retailer is currently using about 70,000 square feet for fresh-cut produce operations as well as refrigerated soups. The facility will supply 228 Giant Eagle stores and 160 GetGo convenience stores, officials said.

Tom DeVries is Giant Eagle's vice president of prepared foods. He told the newspaper, "The best quality way to cut fruit in many instances is by hand. . .  We think we can produce a fresh product that is more quickly available to our customers."

The newspaper noted that Giant Eagle "hasn't taken over making all soups and pasta dishes served at Giant Eagle's prepared foods areas but the number of recipes that the staff has mastered continues to grow. There are more opportunities including macaroni and cheese (the company sells more than 1 million pounds of that per year), gravies and Asian sauces."

A research and development chef has been cooking up new items, which could expand the offerings and also eventually make the facility a supplier to other grocers or customers.

"We think this idea of chilled, never-frozen soup is a big idea," DeVries told the paper.