The company’s investment in its PTC in the city of York will enable it to accelerate confectionery product development for the UK and the rest of its worldwide business.
At the PTC, teams of technologists, scientists, engineers, food chemists, confectioners, nutritionists and other experts work on developing innovative ideas for confectionery, from new manufacturing, raw material processing and packaging methods, to the reformulation of existing products.
Nestlé has expanded the miniature factory, or pilot plant, at the heart of the PTC, where new technologies are developed and tested before being used in its factories around the world.
The company has also enlarged the PTC’s sensory testing facility, where panels of experienced confectionery tasters evaluate prototypes and finished products on a variety of factors including smell, bitterness or sweetness, and taste preference.
The investment is one of a number Nestlé has made in its global research and development capabilities recently.
Earlier this month the company opened its first R&D centre in India and the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences in Switzerland, while in October it announced it would increase the number of R&D units it has in China from two to four.
“All Nestlé PTCs around the world provide a ‘critical mass’ of expertise in particular product categories,” said Stefan Palzer, Director of PTC York, at the opening ceremony.
“Here in York, our specialist teams develop breakthrough technologies for chocolate, wafer and fruit-based confectionery, and chocolate ingredients and coatings for ice cream products.
“The expansion will enable us to intensify product and packaging prototyping using sustainable and high quality raw materials, innovative manufacturing processes and reliable and efficient equipment.
“It means we will be able to develop ideas more rapidly from the initial concept to the finished product you see for a sale on a shelf.”
Mr Palzer was joined at the event by David Heath MP, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food; Fiona Kendrick, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé UK and Ireland, and Ciaran Sullivan, Managing Director of Nestlé Confectionery in the UK and Ireland.
Nestlé’s PTC in York employs about 185 people of more than 30 nationalities, including a number of placement students and apprentices.
Their work is essential for the continuous improvement of the quality, texture, nutritional profile, sustainability and affordability of Nestlé confectionery products.
Many employees who are recruited and trained in York will be assigned to other Nestlé operations or research and development centres in the future.
Working in partnership
The PTC in York currently offers 13 industrial Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (CASE) studentships with universities in the UK.
These training grants, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, provide students with research training experience through collaborations between academic institutions and partner organisations.
The PTC also has a variety of research and development partnerships with other local and international universities, institutes and suppliers.
It has recently been granted funding of almost GBP 1 million from the UK Technology Strategy Board for two projects to stimulate business-led innovation in the country.
Nestlé’s PTC in York is located on the same site as its confectionery factory that produces popular brands including Kit Kat, Aero, and Milky Bar.
The extension work on the PTC was completed according to the principles of ‘lean construction’, a global standard for designing and constructing more efficient and environmentally sustainable buildings and systems.
The PTC is designed to minimise waste of materials such as water, carbon dioxide, and energy while maximising output.