Nestlé on July 22 celebrated the grand opening of its new Nestlé Research & Development Center in Solon, Ohio, and marked the completion of a $50 million, two-year project to establish this global center dedicated to transforming the way the world enjoys frozen and chilled foods. In the new 144,000 square foot facility, Nestlé R&D Solon will balance consumer-centered innovation with technology leadership.
While the center’s mission is to sustain global needs, its location in Ohio reflects the growth in size and complexity of Nestlé’s frozen and chilled foods businesses in the United States, where well-known Nestlé brands lead in their various categories. That growth made an expanded and collaborative research and development effort necessary.
“Few areas of research are as complex as food research,” said Johannes Baensch, Head of Global Product & Technology Development, Nestec Ltd. “Nestlé has a long-standing reputation for excellence in research on food and nutrition and this Research Center is regarded as one of the world’s leading laboratories in food and life sciences. By creating Nestlé R&D Solon, we are transporting a significant piece of our global research expertise to the United States, our largest global market.”
Baensch continued: “Nestlé has been dedicated to enhancing people’s lives since Henri Nestlé founded the company nearly 150 years ago. Today, we’re still focused on offering good food that provides added health benefits, fulfills the highest safety standards and offers nutritional advantages. Food also must look and taste good, and offer convenience to consumers. Our Nestlé R&D Solon team will help to improve every aspect of the frozen and chilled foods we market with this vision in mind.”
In addition to developing R&D strategy for Nestlé’s worldwide frozen and chilled foods businesses, the experts at Nestlé R&D Solon will focus on product innovation and renovation that both meet Nestlé’s Nutrition Foundation requirements and balance taste with nutrition, by exploring ways to reduce sodium and saturated fat, eliminate partially hydrogenated oils, incorporate more vegetables, and create gluten-free and high-protein options. The team will also provide expert technical assistance to Nestlé production facilities around the world, as well as guidance in the important areas of nutrition, food processing, food quality, and food safety. Incorporated into the design is a pilot plant where the latest technology advancements and new recipes can be evaluated and refined for introduction into the marketplace.
“We’re experiencing one of the most profound shifts in how people eat right now. To address the ever-changing landscape, we’re striving to make our products healthier and tastier using unmatched R&D capability, nutrition science and passion for quality in everything we do,” said Paul Grimwood, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA. “I’m pleased that Nestlé R&D Solon will enable us to better anticipate and provide consumers with the food choices they deserve and the quality they have come to expect from Nestlé.”
The launch of Nestlé R&D Solon is a significant expansion of the company’s already strong presence in Ohio and establishes Solon as the center of excellence for the largest frozen and chilled foods market in the world. The new center builds on a number of Nestlé businesses that either launched in Solon, such as Stouffer’s®, Lean Cuisine®, and Nestlé Toll House® cookie doughs, or have relocated there, including Hot Pockets® and Lean Pockets®, DiGiorno®, California Pizza Kitchen®, Tombstone® and Jack’s® pizza brands. Over time, the company’s U.S. frozen and chilled foods businesses have consolidated to this one large campus, also home to Nestlé Professional’s Culinary Innovation Center.
“It’s a great honor to expand our presence and partnership with the state of Ohio and the Solon community, which wouldn’t be possible without ongoing support from Governor John Kasich and his JobsOhio team, and Solon Mayor Susan Drucker and the city of Solon,” Grimwood commented.
Nestlé has long been a steady employer in the region. With the 2014 move of Nestlé Pizza to Solon and the opening of this facility, Nestlé now employs over 2,200 in the Cleveland area, 3,400 in Ohio and over 51,000 in the United States. Nestlé R&D Solon houses 120 chefs, consumer researchers, packaging specialists, designers, engineers and scientists; over 40 employees have joined the center since the project was announced in 2013.
“The new center is an invaluable addition to our R&D capabilities,” said Sean Westcott, Director of Nestlé R&D Solon. “We’ve truly created a community of experts to help fuel innovative ideas that offer consumers the frozen and chilled foods choices they want. Our leadership in the frozen and chilled foods categories and our focus on nutrition, health and wellness mean that Nestlé can improve what food options we provide to Americans and our consumers around the world. That’s good for business, good for consumers, and an achievement that makes us proud.”
Nestlé R&D Solon is one of 12 “centers of excellence” for global product and process development, opening it to the full breadth and depth of the world’s largest private food and nutrition, research and development network, and fostering information sharing for Nestlé businesses across the world, including factories in Germany, France and Italy.