Behind every Nestlé food or beverage there is a team of scientists, engineers, nutritionists, designers, regulatory specialists and consumer care representatives dedicated to producing safe, high-quality and innovative products.
This is what a group of 14 media representatives from across Central and West Africa discovered during their visit to the Nestlé Research and Development Centre in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The visit took place on 18 May and was an opportunity for them to learn more about Nestlé’s capabilities in Research and Development and commitment to improving the nutrition, health and wellness of its African consumers.
With a network of 34 Research and Development (R&D) facilities worldwide, Nestlé has the largest food and nutrition research network in the world and endeavours to be at the forefront of new thinking on nutrition.
Nestlé’s Research and Development Centre in Abidjan (R&D Abidjan), which opened in 2009, is part of this global network and is the first of its kind on the continent.
R&D Abidjan belongs to the Nestlé Research Quality and Safety network, which comprises over 250 scientists across the globe, to analyse and assess raw materials and finished products to assure safe and compliant products.
The centre supports local farmers and sustainable agricultural methods through science and technology by focusing on improving the quality of locally sourced raw materials including cocoa, coffee, cereals and cassava.
It is led by a highly qualified team of food scientists, technologists, agronomists and sensory specialists who collaborate with Nestlé’s R&D global network to meet the unique business needs of the African market.
“Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at Nestlé”, said Oliver Chmiel, Head of R&D Abidjan. “Nestlé aims at enhancing people’s lives through products by offering consumers tastier and healthier choices thanks to its R&D capabilities and nutrition science in Central and West Africa and worldwide”, he added.
Nestlé is committed to delivering products and nutritional solutions that make a positive contribution to consumers’ lives. To enhance the nutritional status among local consumers, it supports food fortification as one way to help them meet their adequate daily nutrition requirements through foods in their staple diets.
In 2014 more than 55 billion individual servings of Nestlé products fortified with micronutrients were sold in the region.
One such product developed by R&D Abidjan is Golden Morn breakfast cereal fortified with vitamin A and iron.
In addition, the company sells iron-fortified Maggi bouillons with iodised salt across the region. These products help increase the intake of these essential nutrients for millions of people in the region.
R&D Abidjan also uses raw materials sourced from Central and West Africa to develop nutritious and affordable products for consumers in the region and globally. R&D technicians are, for example, evaluating the possibility of using biofortified crops in Nestlé products.
Biofortification is the process by which the nutritional value of food crops is improved through biological means such as conventionalplant breeding.
In partnership with the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), three varieties of iron- and zinc-rich millet were evaluted. Results showed the potential of using iron biofortified millet for products such as Golden Morn Millet and Cerelac Millet.
Quality and safety
To further its commitment to quality and safety, Nestlé opened a Nestlé Quality Assurance Centre (NQAC) in 2015. The Centre, located next to R&D Abidjan, is one of the 26 NQACs located worldwide and only the second located in Africa.
It is the only one in Africa and the Middle East that houses an analytical laboratory dedicated to chemical contaminants analysis - primarily mycotoxins, heavy metals and pesticides - of food and food ingredients used by Nestlé. All raw materials used by Nestlé factories in the region as well as finished products will be analysed at NQAC Abidjan.
Nestlé Cocoa Plan
R&D Abidjan is also helping to strengthen Nestlé’s global Cocoa Plan by promoting a sustainable cocoa supply.
One of the objectives under the plan is to produce and distribute about 12 million high-quality and disease-tolerant plantlets to cocoa farmers over ten years, as part of its worldwide launch in 2009.
Nestlé is working with the National Centre of Agronomic Research (CNRA) in Côte d’Ivoire to boost the cocoa and coffee production with high yielding varieties.
The R&D Centre helps farmers source a higher income for higher-yield crops, and provides high-quality raw materials at fair prices for the company.
Creating shared value
These activities are all part of Nestlé’s approach to business, which it calls ‘Creating Shared Value’.
It seeks to create value along its value chain from the farmers and communities in which it operates to its consumers, while boosting its own activities.