The centre in Wageningen will have capacity for around 550 employees.
Currently, all of Unilever’s roles in food R&D are located in Vlaardingen in the Netherlands, Heilbronn in Germany and Poznan in Poland.
Through this R&D co-location – which will bring together its resources for home care, personal care, food and refreshment - Unilever said it could create critical mass in key expertise areas bringing innovative products to the market.
President of Unilever Foods Amanda Sourry said: “The Foods Innovation ecosystem in Wageningen will bring together a strong combination of in-house R&D and external science and technology, talent and facilities, increasing the impact of Unilever’s own resources and capabilities, and ultimately creating the innovative power that we need to provide leadership in foods.”
“It will enable the Dutch agri-food sector to remain frontrunner in its field,” said executive board member of Wageningen University and research Dr Tijs Breukink.
“The presence of academic and applied research, start-ups and established companies in combination with shared cutting edge facilities makes for an inspiring green environment and creates critical mass for a vibrant innovation oriented community.”
The food industry is a major contributor to the Dutch economy, making up over 10% of the country’s gross national product (GNP) and employing 600,000 people.
Building of the Foods Innovation Centre will begin after an initial consultation process, with the complete project expected to be finalised by the second quarter of 2019.
Unilever has sales in over 190 countries and its products are consumed by two billion consumers each day. In 2015 it generated profits of €53.3 billion.