Nestlé’s research shake-up promises to accelerate cutting-edge innovation

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25 May 2018 --- Nestlé is strengthening its R&D operations by bringing together its two scientific discovery units, the Nestlé Research Center (NRC) and the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS), to build one “impactful organization.” Nestlé Research will be a combination of what the group describes as “world-renowned research facilities,” with highly complementary capabilities capable of taking the research work of Nestlé to a new level.

The shake-up will push the boundaries of research innovation and, more specifically, speed up how the group brings products to market. 

Nestlé stresses that the reorganization is not a cost-cutting exercise and that there will be no job losses or change to budget.

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, a Nestlé spokesperson describes how the changes come into effect on July 1, 2018. 

“The decision was taken to bring the complementary capabilities in the NRC and NIHS together to be more impactful regarding scientific excellence and translational work,” the spokesperson says. 

“The team in the new Institute of Health Sciences in Nestlé Research will continue to research the complex relationship between nutrition & health and translate this understanding into business-relevant nutritional concepts.”

“This is not a cost-cutting exercise, so there is no effect on positions. There is also no change to the overall R&D budget.”

According to Nestlé, the research reorganization is all about maintaining the edge in terms of research and innovation.

“But we also want to increase speed to market,” adds the spokesperson. 

“This is a general stated aim for Nestlé R&D. We believe that this new organization and stronger focus will help us to do that.”

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Milkybar Wowsomes

Nestlé says it invested approximately CHF1.7 billion (US$1.7 billion) in R&D in 2017 and that Switzerland remains of central importance for its international research work.

Reducing sugar, salt and saturated fat, increasing positive nutrients
Nestlé maintains its focus on developing new products and services that offer tastier and healthier choices to global consumers. Reducing sugar, salt and saturated fat content while increasing positive nutrients to improve the nutritional profile of its products, are key concerns. 

Nestlé’s researchers collaborate with scientists at local and international academic institutions to help them make impactful scientific discoveries and to advance the quality of Nestlé’s products.

Broader issues are also being addressed through science and technology, like non-communicable diseases, micronutrient deficiencies and sustainability. 

“Nestlé’s success is built on meeting fast-changing consumer demand around the world. In this dynamic environment, innovation leadership is key to winning in the marketplace,” says Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider. 

“Strengthening our discovery research capabilities will give us an edge when it comes to developing the technologies for the next generation of must-have products.”

Nestlé Research will be based in Lausanne, Switzerland and employ approximately 800 people. It will consist of three major research institutes: Health Sciences, Material Sciences and Food Safety & Analytical Sciences. 

It will combine fundamental science at the highest level, high-end analytical platforms leveraged by all research teams and robust prototyping capabilities to accelerate the translation of science into innovation.

Scientific discovery leads to Nestlé’s business growth
An example of how scientific discoveries become translated into innovation and products that fuel Nestlé’s sales and profits is the recently launched chocolate bar Milkybar Wowsomes, which demonstrates Nestlé’s sugar restructuring breakthrough.

In March, the chocolate bar that contains 30 percent less sugar than usual, made its debut in the UK and Ireland as Nestlé unveiled an innovative sugar reduction technique that it hails as a scientific breakthrough. 

Experts created aerated, porous particles of sugar that dissolve more quickly in the mouth and on the tongue. This allows someone to perceive the same level of sweetness as before, but with much less of the ingredient and consuming less sugar.

Alongside the 30 percent sugar reduction, the bar only contains natural ingredients and no sweeteners. It was based on the work of research teams in Switzerland and was inspired by candy floss (cotton candy).

“The strengthening of our research organization will enable us to accelerate insights, discoveries and breakthrough innovations. Switzerland’s collaborative research landscape creates the ideal environment for this,” concludes Paul Bulcke, Nestlé Chairman.

By Gaynor Selby

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