Nestlé expands its R&D center and invites food startups to Southeast Asia


Food tech startups in Southeast Asia can access Nestlé’s enhanced research and development (R&D) center in Singapore through the food company’s new R&D accelerator program.

The state of the centre’s facilities can be used to tailor food products to the preferences, tastes and nutritional needs of local consumers in Southeast Asian markets, including the Philippines.

“If you want to be successful in our business, you need to have a good understanding of the flavors people love, the dishes they want to serve their families, the food trends they want to try,” said Chris Johnson, CEO of Nestlé’s. Asia, Oceania and Sub-Saharan Africa (AOA) Division, during the virtual launch of the center. “That’s why it’s so important to have an R&D team in Singapore, here in the heart of Southeast Asia, a center of excellence that drives innovation and product development in Asia, to Asia ”.

The R&D accelerator will give startups, students and employees access to new laboratories, experimental kitchens, test facilities, sensory evaluation rooms, open workspaces and research centers. There they can develop their concepts for up to six months.

There has been an increase in demand for healthy, natural and sustainable products in the region, according to Mr Johnson, who explained that the facilities were used by scientists at Nestlé to develop innovations such as Nescafé non-dairy blends. and Milo powder drinks. as plant-based meat substitutes.

At the Milo plant, for example, researchers developed soy and almond products that retain the characteristic taste of the chocolate and malt drink, said Thomas Hauser, head of global product development and Nestlé technologies.

“We have 1.6 billion Swiss francs invested in R&D, wherever there is a need,” he said, on the importance of developing more product lines to meet all markets, than whether in Asia or elsewhere. “The entire center has 300 researchers working there.

Other sustainable products coming out of the center include Nescafé Gold non-dairy lattes and Starbucks silky soy and roasted oat lattes. The R&D center is also working on alternatives to plant-based meat and hamburger patties, cutlets and minced meat, which are then produced in Malaysia.

Nestlé’s Harvest Gourmet brand incorporates these herbal innovations into Asian cuisine, such as dumplings and katsudon. These are developed from the R&D centre’s test kitchens, which separate halal from non-halal products.

“More and more consumers are primarily interested in health; second, in terms of sustainability for the planet; and third, in animal welfare, ”said Mr Johnson, Head of AOA Nestlé.

In the Philippines, Nestlé promotes regenerative agriculture and sustainable coffee production through partnerships with Robusta coffee producers based in Mindanao – an example of sustainable initiatives that Nestlé expects from the R&D Accelerator.

“We are looking for brilliant ideas and innovators from universities in Singapore or the region, and we are open to undergraduate or graduate students who wish to lead initiatives with us. The same goes for early start-ups who want to bring an idea to market but may not have the know-how, ”said Guglielmo Bonora, managing director of Nestlé’s R&D center in Singapore.

Mr Hauser added, “They can take advantage of our expertise in food science, food safety and regulation, management and packaging, and test products under real market conditions. “- Brontë H. Lacsamana

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