Over the past few years the popularity of more expensive, high quality chocolates has increased markedly. Nestle is no exception in seeing higher than average growth from its luxury brands, which include Nestle Noir, Perugina, Cailler and Nespresso.
Building on the growth of these brands, Nestle has invested CHF 25m (€16.5m) in the creation of a centre for excellence that will spearhead its work in luxury chocolate.
The centre itself is based in Broc, Switzerland, and was opened today by Nestle CEO Paul Burke alongside senior Nestle executives and political figures including Doris Leuthard, the Swiss Minister of Economic Affairs.
The new research centre will become the home for a team of Nestle chocolate specialists including cocoa bean scientists, sensory experts and chocolatiers on the formulation side.
These researchers will be joined by packaging designers and consumer specialists who will guide the formulators and turn their creations into new products.
Flanking the Nestle workers will be panel of independent chocolatiers such as Pierre Marcolini, Tristan Carbonatto and Roger von Rotz. Their job will be to add artistic inspiration to the product development process.
The new centre of excellence will also be working with other outside bodies to share knowledge and spark ideas. It has already struck up partnerships with design institutions such as the California Art Center and the ECAL University of Art and Design in Lausanne.
As well as fueling innovation in the luxury segment, Nestle said the new centre would influence product development across its chocolate range.
Last year the chocolate business at Nestle reached sales of CHF 9.8bn and grew 7.6 per cent in organic terms compared to the previous year. It has a few big global brands like Kit Kat but 70 per cent of its chocolate sales come from local brands.