Danone is poised to establish a new international R&D centre for baby and medical nutrition in The Netherlands after signing an agreement to purchase land on Utrecht Science Park.
Since entering the market with the acquisition of Numico in 2007, Danone has seen turnover from its baby nutrition and medical nutrition activities grow. In 2009 they accounted for 20 per cent and 6 per cent of the group’s almost €15bn turnover, growing 8 per cent and 11 per cent on the previous year.
The global food firm’s plan to build a new centre as a base for international research and innovation is billed as the next step in its evolving specialised nutrition strategy. R&D in this area is currently split between locations in The Netherlands, Germany and the UK, but when the new centre is complete in 2012 at least 400 employees will transfer there.
The new site is said to have room for these activities to grow. The agreement for the land purchase was signed on Friday.
The company has not unveiled the budget for the new centre, nor details of the facilities and equipment it will house. It has determined that it will be constructed in adherence with sustainability principles, however. It has teamed up with sustainable property development OVG.
“OVG considers Danone’s new centre on the Utrecht Science Park to represent a powerful combination, because of the shared vision regarding innovation and sustainability,” the company said.
At the time of its Numico acquisition Danone said its focus would remain on dairy, but that nutrition would become the business’ new ‘third pillar’, alongside beverages. The brands that came along with the purchase include brand names Nutricia, Milupa, Cow & Gate and Dumex.
Prior to buying Numico Danone sold its biscuit business to Kraft for €5.3bn. This manoeuvre is a further indication of its commitment to a healthy future.