February 2022

Nestlé Strengthens Agricultural Science Expertise with New Research Institute

This week, Nestlé announced the creation of Nestlé Institute of Agricultural Sciences. Focusing on plant science, dairy livestock and agricultural systems, it will translate novel agricultural science into concrete applications and identify the most promising technologies to implement at farm level.

Translating science into concrete solutions

Transitioning towards a regenerative food system requires large-scale changes in the way agricultural raw materials are produced and sourced. To translate novel agricultural science into concrete applications and to identify the most promising agricultural technologies, Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley member Nestlé announced today the creation of the Nestlé Institute of Agricultural Sciences.

This new institute will focus on the areas of plant science, dairy livestock and agricultural systems science. In close collaboration with internal and external partners, it will assess and combine science-based solutions to improve the nutritional and sensorial qualities and the environmental impact of agricultural raw materials.

Stefan Palzer, Nestlé CTO and Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley’s Vice-President, said: “Our transition towards a regenerative food system is enabled by agricultural science and new agricultural technologies. The new institute will accelerate the translation of science into concrete solutions that can be implemented at farm level, to support farmers globally in improving their environmental footprint, in reducing food and nutrient losses, and in better adapting to climate change while ensuring the quality of the raw materials they produce.” 

Building on strong foundations

The institute builds on Nestlé’s existing work and expertise in agricultural science, with numerous programs already being implemented. Nestle’s plant science experts have, for example, been contributing to the company’s sustainable cocoa and coffee sourcing plans – the Nestlé Cocoa Plan and the Nescafé Plan – including scientific discoveries such as the recently announced high-yield, drought and disease resistant coffee varieties.

Nestlé experts are also working on identifying the most suitable pulses and grains to provide low carbon, plant-based alternatives to meat, seafood and dairy. This strong focus on plant science will be further strengthened and extended to additional crops. The institute will accelerate the work with external partners to contribute to reducing emissions in dairy farming, to develop regenerative agriculture practices, and to improve biodiversity and soil health. It will also explore new approaches to upcycling agricultural side streams to reduce nutrient loss and food waste along the agricultural value chain.

Isabelle Bureau-Franz, Head of Nestlé Research, said: “The work in agricultural sciences will complement our broad expertise at Nestlé Research, ranging from food safety to health science, material science and packaging. We will leverage our scientific breadth to drive holistic approaches, contributing to concrete solutions and innovation applied throughout the value chain, including in products.”

Working across the ecosystem

The institute will work closely with academic institutions and research organizations, start-ups, industry partners and farmers to assess and develop science-based solutions and adapt them for implementation and scale-up across the company’s supply chain, while having a positive impact on the livelihoods and incomes of farmers. It will rely on new and existing collaborations, such as the research program with fellow Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley member ETHZ to reduce the carbon footprint of agricultural products.

Jeroen Dijkman, Head of the Institute of Agricultural Sciences, said: “At the institute we will screen a wide variety of science-based agricultural solutions and assess their potential for reducing the environmental footprint of key agricultural raw materials. Together with our research and industry partners we want to bring the most promising approaches and solutions to farmers and contribute to their transition to regenerative practices with scalable and impactful applications.

About the institute
The institute will be part of Nestlé’s global research organization, based in state-of-the-art facilities in Lausanne, Switzerland and will be formally inaugurated later this year. It will also include the company’s plant science unit in France, as well as existing cocoa, coffee, and dairy research farms based in Ecuador, Côte d’Ivoire, Thailand and Switzerland.

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