Unilever’s new €85M Innovation Centre will develop vegan food.
The British-Dutch multinational wants to use the center to create sustainable and nutritious food. And the technology could help to tackle issues such as food waste and climate change.
The new center, nicknamed “Hive,” aims to transform the global food system. Particular areas of research include new meat alternatives and plant-based food, more efficient crops, and sustainable packaging.
Unilever CEO Alan Jope said a “fundamental transformation” is necessary to feed more than 9 billion people “sustainably and nutritiously.”
“Malnutrition, obesity, climate change and food waste are issues that can only be addressed if we work in partnership,” continued Jope. “To accelerate technology and innovation. Having a global research and development centre in Wageningen will enable us to do exactly this.”
Hive is located on the Wageningen University campus in Netherlands’ “Food Valley” – a leading research hub for global food and agriculture.
According to Unilever, Hive has “the highest certification for sustainable buildings;” an “outstanding” BREEAM certificate. Earlier this year, the building won two prestigious awards for its design. The Global Design Award for Commercial Projects and the Global Public Award.
Unilever’s Hive will lead its innovation programs for brands with plant-based options such as Knorr, Hellmann’s, and The Vegetarian Butcher. The company now offers approximately 700 vegan and vegetarian-friendly products.
In 2018, Unilever acquired The Vegetarian Butcher brand and said it fit “perfectly” with the company’s “strategy to expand our portfolio of plant-based foods.” According to Nitin Paranjpe of Unilever, The Vegetarian Butcher’s “clear mission,” and the increasing demand for plant-based meat partly prompted the purchase.
According to Modular Classrooms, more than half of Brits are willing to change their lifestyles in order to fight climate change. Market intelligence company Numerator indicated that 80 percent of Americans were looking to replace some or all meat with vegan alternatives.
Recent data, including The Planetary Health Diet produced by the EAT-Lancet Commission, emphasizes plant-based and vegetable-forward meals. Eating more vegan food can benefit personal health as well as mitigating the effects of climate change.