By choosing Wageningen as the location of the new Upfield Food Science Centre, the company said it could take advantage of its proximity to The Wageningen University & Research (WUR). The institution has developed a reputation for being a leading agri-food centre of research.
"The announcement today demonstrates our commitment to ambitious and pioneering research and development," said Upfield Group chief executive David Haines. "Our track record is good. Since Upfield was established under two years ago, we have already launched new and industry-leading plant-based cheese, cream, and butter products.
"The new Upfield Food Science Centre will allow us to accelerate our ambitious agenda and develop even more options so people can enjoy great-tasting, natural, plant-based foods that are not only beneficial to their health, but to the planet."
Access to equipment, technology and 'a creative network'
John Verbakel, Upfield chief research and development officer, said the move would give the company access to equipment, technology and "an inspiring and creative network of individuals and companies".
Headquartered in Amsterdam, Upfield has also committed to opening a new global headquarters by the end of 2021. The base is intended to bring together associates from Rotterdam and Amsterdam and would boost collaboration between associates currently working at different sites.
Plans for the construction of its headquarters and the Upfield Food Science Centre were submitted to the Dutch Works Council on 11 June.
Upfield announced plans to transform Flora into a 100% plant-based brand in March 2019. The company was formed in July 2018, following the £6m acquisition of Unilever's spreads business by private equity firm KKR in December 2017.
In addition to Flora, Upfield makes more than 100 brands, including Rama, Blue Band, Proactiv, Becel, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Country Crock and Violife. The company sells its products in more than 95 countries, has 17 manufacturing sites throughout the world and employs more than 4,100 associates.