His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands opened Unilever’s new global Foods Innovation Center on the campus of Wageningen University on December 6. He is pictured above doing the honors in the company of Unilever CEO Alan Jope.
Unilever has invested €85 million in the center, named “Hive,” which is situated in a global agri-food research hub amidst leading academic research centers, start-ups and external partners. From this location the Anglo-Dutch multinational consumer products company will lead food innovation programs for brands including Knorr and The Vegetarian Butcher. Areas of research will include plant-based ingredients and meat alternatives, efficient crops, sustainable food packaging and nutritious foods.
Together with its partners, Unilever aims to transform the food industry into a healthy and sustainable system, driving innovations that will better benefit consumers.
“We need a fundamental transformation of the food system if we are to feed more than nine billion people sustainably and nutritiously. Malnutrition, obesity, climate change and food waste are issues that can only be addressed if we work in partnership to accelerate technology and innovation. Having a global research and development center in Wageningen will enable us to do exactly this,” stated Unilever CEO Jope.
The Wageningen area in the Netherlands is often referred to as the “Food Valley” in recognition of the breakthroughs in agri-food technology being generated by start-ups, science institutes, NGOs and companies located in the region. The “Hive” will function as an interaction and collaboration hub for Unilever’s nutritionists, researchers and students from Wageningen University & Research (WUR) campus, and local start-ups and knowledge institutes involved in food-related innovation. Cross-fertilization between these parties is set to be further stimulated since a major part of the facility is open to the general public.
Unilever’s “Hive” has the highest certification for sustainable buildings: “BREEAM-NL Outstanding. “Large parts of the fully circular interior are accessible to the public. Earlier this year, the building won two prestigious design awards: the Global Design Award for Commercial Projects and the Global Public Award.