“We are excited about this space,” N&H president Craig Binetti told us from Brabrand where former proprietor Danisco opened its R&D facility in 1964.
“We’ve obviously put merger & acquisition investment in the space to build positions but continue with R&D investment and that has only been strengthened through Danisco [it paid €5bn for the probiotics and enzymes leader in 2011].”
Across its divisions that include Advanced Materials and Industrial Biosciences, the chemicals giant released 1800 new products in 2013, but said it would launch 4000 food-related products and ingredients in the next six years alone.
“We can only do that if we are committed to science and research,” Binetti said of his firm that spent about €1.75bn on R&D in 2013 – or about 6% of its total revenues – a level it was committed to maintaining.
A tour of DuPont’s lab revealed much work going on around improving the sensory and nutritional properties of bread, soy yoghurts and meat alternatives as well as ice cream, confectionery and nutrition bars.
Another project was using brain imaging to better understand responses to sweetener consumption while yet another was using advanced tools to better analyse and improve the properties of foam and air in varying food matrices like ice cream and bread.
Global technology director Nicolas Cudre-Mauroux and senior VP and chief science and technology officer Douglas Muzyka said the firm was moving ever closer to undetectable replacement of sugars, fats and salts given contemporary palettes. The same went for soy-based and other meat alternatives that catered to growing numbers of ‘meat reducers’ and vegetarians.
Binetti said the work in innovation led it to food security where it sought to improve the quality and abundance of the food supply and the livelihoods of those in it. That included education programmes around farming, sustainability and nutrition from children to farmers themselves.
In line with these concerns, it sponsored the Economist Intelligence Unit Food Security Index which assessed the wellbeing of the global food supply according to 28 measures including average food spend, obesity levels, food safety and nutrition.