- Nestle is opening its new Nestle Research & Development Center in Solon, OH, "a $50 million, two-year project to establish this global center dedicated to transforming the way the world enjoys frozen and chilled foods," according to a news release.
- The 144,000-square foot facility will house around 120 chefs, consumer researchers, packaging specialists, designers, engineers, and scientists who will come together to create R&D strategy for the company's global frozen and chilled foods businesses.
- At the same time, experts at the center "will focus on product innovation and renovation that both meet Nestlé’s Nutrition Foundation requirements and balance taste with nutrition, by exploring ways to reduce sodium and saturated fat, eliminate partially hydrogenated oils, incorporate more vegetables, and create gluten-free and high-protein options," according to the news release.
This R&D center is the latest piece of the company's research network. This time, however, Nestle is bringing the global innovation center to the U.S., the company's largest global market.
"Nestle has been dedicated to enhancing people’s lives since Henri Nestle founded the company nearly 150 years ago," said Johannes Baensch, head of global product & technology development for Nestec Ltd. "Today, we’re still focused on offering good food that provides added health benefits, fulfills the highest safety standards and offers nutritional advantages. Food also must look and taste good, and offer convenience to consumers. Our Nestle R&D Solon team will help to improve every aspect of the frozen and chilled foods we market with this vision in mind."
It may not come as a surprise that Nestle is investing in improving its frozen foods businesses as the frozen foods market as a whole continues to lose favor with health-conscious consumers who are moving toward fresher foods. Innovation could be key to Nestle's continued success in that market segment, and other companies may follow their lead to try and save their own frozen foods brands in the future.
Nestle already got a jumpstart on its frozen foods innovations when the company announced last month that it was removing artificial flavorings from its frozen pizzas.
Nestle isn't the only major food company to refocus on product R&D, as Diamond Foods also recently opened an innovation center in Salem, OR, with an R&D kitchen and laboratory as well as "a concept room designed for ideation and customer meetings and a sensory evaluation center for real-time product testing with consumers," Food Business News reported. An influx of research and product development may be just what these processed foods companies need to stay afloat as they struggle against up-and-coming "healthy" brands and fresh foods.