The investment makes the UK home to the firm’s largest R&D base outside North America. Research will be conducted at the firm’s Global Centre of Excellence for Chocolate in Bournville, its Reading Science Centre and its facility in Banbury.
Welcoming the investment David Willetts, minister of state for universities and science, said: “It will help drive long-term, sustainable growth as well as supporting hundreds of high tech jobs in both Birmingham and Reading.”
The Centre of Excellence at Bournville includes new innovation labs, a new pilot plant facility and a ‘collaboration kitchen’ designed to facilitate experimentation with new ideas. The facilities will support the development of new products and improved technologies for the creation and packaging of chocolate brands such as Cadbury Dairy Milk, Milka, Toblerone, Côte d’Or, Terry’s, Flake, Creme Egg, Green & Black’s, Suchard, Freia, Marabou and Lacta.
The firm has also expanded its Reading Science Centre. Based on the University of Reading campus, the unit will continue to test and research new and improved products for Kraft Foods’ global markets.
The expansion includes investment in hi-tech resources and the refurbishment or expansion of four laboratories dealing with research into microbiology, physical chemistry, DNA, protein and flavour.
The investment at Banbury focuses on both coffee and chocolate categories, including new coffee processing equipment and a new cocoa pilot plant.
Jean Spence, the firm’s executive vice president, said: “Our success is driven by continued investment in R&D, which we’ve shown supports growth across our global chocolate business. This is why I am so pleased to officially open the Kraft Foods Global Centre of Excellence for Chocolate R&D in Bournville and the expanded Reading Science Centre.
“We are committed to continued investment in R&D in the UK and for the whole business across the globe, making us an increasingly nimble and dynamic organisation,” she said.
Tim Cofer, president, Kraft Foods Europe, added that the firm expected to deliver “top-tier growth in 2012”. Cofer said that the R&D centres would“drive transformational technologies to grow our business in Europe and around the world”.
The firm claimed that investment in UK R&D facilities had boosted jobs, with the UK Research, Development & Quality workforce growing by an additional 98 – from 552 to 650 employees.
Of the total, 54 new jobs are located in Bournville and 44 in the Global Science Centre in Reading.
In December Kraft said it would cut 200 jobs at its facilities at Bournville, Birmingham, Chirk in Wrexham, north Wales, and Marlbrook in Herefordshire.
Kraft announced its intention last September to move its global chocolate centre from Germany to Cadbury’s historic home of Bournville.
Speaking at the time, a Kraft spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “The decision recognises not only the unique heritage of the Bournville site, which has been here for 132 years, but also the knowledge and skills that already exist within the business here.
“Prior to the acquisition it was already a thriving centre of innovation and Kraft didn’t want to lose those skills.”
Kraft Foods acquired Cadbury in January 2010 for £11.5bn.