Scientists at Nestle’s first Irish research and development (R&D) centre, which opened on Monday, are to focus on investigating the nutritional requirements of babies.
The launch of the company’s R&D centre in Askeaton, west Limerick, which employs 40 people, marks the completion of a three-year, €27 million capital investment building programme, supported by Enterprise Ireland.
It will focus on scientific research to support the development of milk-based maternal and infant nutrition products for the global market, as well as products for mothers and infants.
The new centre incorporates state-of-the-art laboratory facilities as well as a manufacturing line to facilitate the development. It will also test new products from initial concept through to product deployment.
Speaking at the launch, Thomas Hauser, head of global product and technology development for Nestlé said: “With this new centre, we will increase the pace of our innovation capacity by enabling our scientists to explore innovative nutritional solutions for the crucial first 1,000 days of life.
“Our Irish R&D centre will benefit from Nestlé’s global R&D network and help to position Nestlé at the fore of infant and maternal nutritional product development, one of Nestlé’s most important growth drivers,” he added.
Nestlé has invested about €1.3 billion in 30 R&D centres around the world where it employs over 5,000 people.
In the Republic, it employs 750 people, manufacturing over 70 brands across seven categories, including beverage, confectionery, cereals, food, pet care, dairy and infant nutrition.
Officially launching the facility, Minister for Food Michael Creed, said the centre was a “strategically important investment for Ireland by the world’s largest food and beverage company”.
“We are honoured to have a world-leading research facility that provides a cutting-edge scientific base to develop new products that will bring health benefits to infants, children and mothers worldwide.”
He said it was a “major signal” of confidence in the future and quality of the Irish dairy industry.
Dan O’Callaghan, head of the centre, said it would collaborate with universities, Teagasc, and the Agriculture and Food Development Authority “to develop the next wave of innovative nutritional products to meet the demands of future generations”.
Orla Battersby, head of the food division at Enterprise Ireland said it was committed to supporting companies like Nestle to "delivering export growth for Ireland".
“Enterprise Ireland is also responsible for attracting foreign direct investment from the global food industry into Ireland and the opening of this new showcase plant reflects highly on the entire Irish dairy sector – pooling together innovation with best-in-class facilities.”