Understanding India’s consumer food trends is never an easy job, and with this in mind, Nestlé has opened its first research and development centre in the country. It will use the new facility to generate a better knowledge of the market, tastes and people.
The centre, which will specialise in Asian noodles and Indian cooking, will focus on developing highly nutritious, affordable products in smaller serving sizes for lower income consumers.
Researchers will gain expertise in the use of local ingredients and culinary traditions – work Nestlé expects to be a source of new ideas for products.
The company, which directly employs 7,000 people in India and sells its products in around 4m outlets, has invested CHF50m (US$53m) in the centre, which is located in Manesar, close to Nestlé India’s headquarters in Gurgaon.
“This R&D centre will help us gain insights into local consumers’ eating habits and taste preferences, as well as give us greater expertise in using and processing local ingredients to develop products for India and beyond,” said Paul Bulcke, Nestlé’s chief executive, at the facility’s inauguration.”
Tapping into a global network
Johannes Baensch, Nestlé’s global head of research and development, said that the company’s Indian R&D operation will work closely with our other such facilities across the world. It will also nurture local talent, with Nestlé set to recruit the majority of its employees from a regional pool of science and engineering graduates.
“They will be part of our global workforce, sharing knowledge with their colleagues worldwide, and have opportunities to work with our R&D operations in other countries,” Baensch added.
Last month, Nestlé announced plans to double the number of its R&D facilities in China to four by next year. In total, it has 32 research and development centres worldwide.
With its new R&D centre in India, Nestlé aims to extend the range of mainstream products it currently offers consumers in the country, particularly in the noodles, cereal, beverage and dairy categories.
Local knowledge partnerships
The centre will be a source of the latest technological knowledge in food processing and manufacturing. It will also provide expertise in extrusion—a process used to give certain foods a specific shape or texture—and in consumer science.
It also plans to develop scientific collaborations with local universities and research institutes to strengthen its existing knowledge base and to accelerate innovation.
“Nestlé has been in India for 100 years and has used its global R&D expertise and knowledge of nutrition to develop products that we all love,” said Tariq Anwar, the minister of state for agriculture and the food processing industry.
“I am hopeful that Nestlé’s R&D centre in India will improve the exchange of scientific knowledge and accelerate the development of these skills amongst promising talent in India.”