Tate & Lyle has announced a €4m investment to establish a Wellness & Nutrition Centre in Lille, France.
The centre, due to open in September 2007, will include laboratories and pilot plant facilities for customers.
It will focus on developing new ingredients in the field of wellness and nutrition, catering for beverage, dairy, bakery, and convenience food.
"Establishing a Wellness & Nutrition Centre is a major advance in our European value added strategy," said Olivier Rigaud, vice president food ingredients.
"Our aim is to work closely with our FMCG customers' development and marketing teams to create great tasting nutritious products."
Tate & Lyle said that the centre would lead the development of the company's European fibre platform, which supports the Enrich service launched in early 2007.
"Enrich enables food and beverage manufacturers to create products that are packed with additional nutrients but taste as good as regular brands," said the company.
"The centre will also specialise in application and development work for Splenda sucralose, hydrocolloids, carbohydrates, proteins and Core ingredient solutions."
The establishment of the centre underlines Tate & Lyle's focus on the development of value-added ingredients. The group also recently appointed Robert Fisher, a PhD in food science, as the new head of global research and development.
"Tate & Lyle is well renowned as an ingredients company with a culture of innovation," said Fisher.
"Continued investment in R&D, and the highly qualified backbone of research and applications scientists within the group, will drive further advancement."
The new centre in Lille will be part of Tate & Lyle's Global Food Ingredients Group. This was established in 2005, to focus on global food ingredients marketing and maximising growth opportunities for Tate & Lyle's value added ingredient portfolio.
Lille has become a key European centre for functional foods and ingredients and is home to the French Nutrition, Health and Longevity Cluster. This cluster includes many internationally renowned teams involved in research on cardiovascular health, obesity, immunity and nutrition.
Tate & Lyle had a challenging year last year, but not as tough as 2005 when profits fell 79 per cent to 62 million euros. Changes to the EU sugar regime hit the firm hard, and Tate & Lyle has since been working hard to develop a strategy that addresses the new situation.