Nestlé’s Research and Development (R&D) Centre in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, which opened in 2009, is the first of its kind in Africa.
It is dedicated to develop products based on locally sourced raw materials that satisfy the tastes and needs of African consumers.
The centre uses science and technology at all stages of product development to create and adapt products for consumers in Africa. It ensures its innovations meet all food safety and regulatory compliance requirements, in which quality, safety and environmental sustainability are incorporated into our products, from farm to fork.
R&D Abidjan belongs to the Nestlé Research Network, which comprises of over 250 scientists across the globe.
The centre supports local farmers and sustainable agricultural methods through science and technology by focusing on improving the productivity and quality of locally sourced raw materials including cocoa, coffee, cereals, cassava, maize, millet and sorghum.
It is led by a highly qualified team of food scientists, plant scientists, technologists, agronomists and sensory specialists who collaborate with Nestlé’s R&D global network to transfer knowledge and technology, and meet the unique business needs of the African market.
In 2013, we constructed the Zambakro Experimental Farm, which is part of R&D Abidjan, in the Yamoussoukro region.
Over the past few years we have continued to invest in the site that acts as a scientific and technological platform to R&D Abidjan. We use biotechnology processes such as fermentation, plant propagation by somatic embryogenesis, and orthotropic shoot techniques that require no genetic modification, to develop products using locally sourced raw materials to meet the tastes and needs of African consumers.
In 2013 and 2014, we invested about CHF 6.5 million in the construction and development of a new Nestlé Quality Assurance Centre (NQAC), also based in Abidjan. It is one of the 26 NQACs worldwide and the second located on the continent.
It is the only NQAC in Africa and the Middle East that houses a state-of-the-art analytical laboratory dedicated to the analysis of chemical contaminants, specifically heavy metals, mycotoxins and pesticides, that may occur in food and food ingredients used by Nestlé.
The NQAC is also helping to extend our company’s knowledge and expertise by developing collaborations with governmental institutions, universities and private institutions to promote food safety, chemical contaminant analytical methods and support the development of science-based food safety.
R&D Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
R&D Abidjan aims to become a centre of excellence by working with various research institutes in Africa in five areas:
- Plant science, tropical agronomy and bio-fortification.
- African consumer understanding.
- Nutritional product and ingredient development
for African consumers.
- Extrusion and roller drying technology.
- Packaging design, development adapted to local needs.
Product development at R&D Abidjan: Cerelac Millet
Consumer studies have shown that parents in Africa use locally sourced staple crops to prepare food for their infants.
R&D Abidjan identified popular crops in West Africa, such as millet, sorghum, rice and maize, as a potential ingredient in infant cereals.
The centre focused on local taste profiles, safety, nutritional balance, fortification and affordability to determine the best crop for infant cereals.
R&D Abidjan looked at:
- Agronomist support for crop variety;
- Primary process in sourcing grains from suppliers;
- Development of an in-house milling process to produce good
quality flour; and
- Regional strategy to determine a reliable supply of grains.
Experts at R&D Abidjan combined their knowledge on local staple crops and consumer tastes, their expertise and technologies, the roller drying and extrusion processes, and product manufacturing to develop Cerelac Millet fortified with essential micronutrients and probiotic Bifidus BL.
Maggi bouillon cubes and soya fermentation in Nigeria
- We use natural processes, such as fermentation, to transform raw materials into ingredients with nutritional or functional benefits as part of our R&D efforts in Central and West Africa.
- In the 1990s, we carried out trials to include soya beans as an ingredient in some of our products. Our experts found that fermented soya beans were similar to a West African traditional ingredient known as ‘soumbara’ in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Burkina Faso, ‘netetou’ in Senegal or ‘dawadawa’ in Nigeria and Ghana.
- We locally source soya beans from farmers in Nigeria, the largest producing country of the crop in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- We process, ferment and roast the soya beans before the powdered natural soya is used as an ingredient in Maggi cubes to provide Nigerian consumers with the well-liked fermented and meaty flavours.