Global food giant Nestlé is aiming to boost confectionery research and development with the inauguration of its newly extended Product Technology Centre (PTC) for confectionery in York.
The facility will focus on new product development for the UK and global market.
The workforce involves: technologists, scientists, engineers, food chemists, confectioners, nutritionists and others tasked with developing innovative ideas for confectionery. The areas of research include: new manufacturing, reformulation of existing products and raw material processing and packaging.
The new facility also includes a pilot plant to test the commercial application of new technologies.
Stefan Palzer, director of PTC York, said: “All Nestlé PTCs around the world provide a ‘critical mass’ of expertise in particular product categories.”
“Here in York, our specialist teams develop breakthrough technologies for chocolate, wafer and fruit-based confectionery, and chocolate ingredients and coatings for ice cream products.”
Palzer added that the expansion will allow the firm to intensify product and packaging prototyping. The research teams will work with sustainable and high-quality raw materials, innovative manufacturing processes and reliable and efficient equipment, he added.
“It means we will be able to develop ideas more rapidly from the initial concept to the finished product you see for a sale on a shelf,” said Palzer.
Nestlé had also extended the facility’s sensory testing lab. This is where confectionery tasters evaluate prototypes and finished products on a variety of factors including smell, bitterness or sweetness, and taste preference.
Also present at the inauguration were: David Heath, minister of state for agriculture and food, Fiona Kendrick, chairman and ceo Nestlé UK and Ireland, and Ciaran Sullivan, md Nestlé Confectionery in the UK and Ireland.
The PTC employed about 185 people of more than 30 nationalities.
The firm said the extension featured lean construction and was designed to minimise waste of water, carbon dioxide, and energy while maximising output.
The PTC offered 13 industrial collaborative awards in Science and Engineering (CASE) studentships with universities in the UK. It was recently granted funding of nearly £1M from the UK Technology Strategy Board for two projects to stimulate business-led innovation.
Nestlé’s York site also houses the confectionery factory that makes Kit Kat, Aero, and Milky Bar.
Meanwhile, earlier this month the company opened its first research and development (R&D) centre in India and the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences in Switzerland. In October, the firm announced plans to boost the number of its R&D units in China from two to four.