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Unilever has invested $94 million in an innovation center in a bid to create sustainable foods and packaging.

Researchers at the Foods Innovation Centre – which is based at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in the Netherlands – will focus on plant-based food and meat alternatives, as well as sustainable food packaging, efficient crops, and nutritious foods.

Sustainable building

Food innovation programs for Unilever-owned brands including The Vegetarian Butcher and Hellmann’s will be led at the facility, which is known as ‘Hive’.

Hive, according to Unilever, is energy-neutral and rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Dutch BREEAM assessment body for environmental performance. It is one of the most sustainable multifunctional buildings in the world.

‘Fundamental transformation’

“We need a fundamental transformation of the food system if we are to feed more than nine billion people sustainably and nutritiously,” Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever, said.

“Malnutrition, obesity, climate change, and food waste are issues that can only be addressed if we work in partnership to accelerate technology and innovation. 

“Having a global research and development center in Wageningen will enable us to do exactly this.”

‘Very unique taste experiences’

“We are thrilled about the idea of cooperation and direct knowledge exchange,” added Manfred Aben, Vice President R&D and Head of the Foods Innovation Centre at Unilever.

“Having the resources and expertise of Symrise located right at our site enables us to work even better together on the transformational journey towards a food system that is better for you and for the planet. 

“It’s a first proof point of how we envisage working together with partners in an ecosystem. Consumers can look forward to very unique taste experiences.”