Announcements of new R&D plans this week from Nestle and Danone indicate that major manufacturers plan to keep up the pace on nutrition research and innovation in the economic downturn.
Swiss-headquartered multinational Nestle said today that it is setting up its first ever research unit in Japan for fundamental scientific research on health and nutrition, in collaboration with the University of Tokyo.
The company and the University are embarking on a joint research programme at the unit as of next month called ‘Food for Life’, which will explore subjects such as healthy ageing, mobility and cognitive performance.
“This research will provide the scientific basis for developing new products that will bring health benefits to consumers in Japan and world-wide,” said the company.
Nestle plans to send some of its scientists on secondment from Switzerland to the University, and is also investing around CH1m (c €0.66m at today’s exchange rates) in a Nestle-endowed chair over a three year period.
Nestle has been operational in Japan since 1913. In 2008 it reported sales of CHF 4476m (c €2961.7) in Oceania and Japan.
At the end of April Nestle inaugurated a new R&D centre in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, with a brief to improve quality of cocoa, coffee and cassava sourced from the area and adapt products to the tastes and needs West Africans.
It hopes that better crop quality will allow it to source more raw materials in West Africa, thereby raising the income and the quality of life of local farmers
Danone goes Dutch
Danone, meanwhile, has unveiled plans to build a new R&D centre for baby and medical nutrition in The Netherlands, which will open in 2012.
The French Fortune 500 firm already has four research bases for specialised nutrition in The Netherlands, in Wageningen, Zoetermeer, Cuijk and Schipol. The activities at these sites will be transferred to the new centre in Utrecht Science Park once it is up and running.
The budget for the new centre has not been disclosed, but Danone said the investment is “significant”.