Unilever opens global Centre of Excellence to develop new products

Vlaardingen, 4 March 2008 - Unilever R&D today opened the Centre of Excellence Structured Emulsions in Vlaardingen, the Netherlands.

Developing new products

This global technology centre will focus on new product development for margarines, spreads, mayonnaise, salad dressings and dairy cream alternatives. The centre is a multi-site organisation, employing 225 R&D professionals in Vlaardingen (NL), Dijon (FR) and Englewood Cliffs (USA). The Centre of Excellence (CoE) Structured Emulsions will contribute to Unilever growth by delivering new product innovations. Furthermore, the CoE will contribute to the operating margin of Unilever by compensating for the rise in commodity costs through smarter use of ingredients and application of new technologies.

The new R&D centre will focus on developing innovative products that provide the natural goodness of oils (e.g. essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, vitamins), healthier choices (e.g. products with minimised saturated and trans fats; low-calorie options) and functional foods (products with added functional ingredients for additional health benefits). It will counter the rise in commodity costs, for example for rapeseed oil, by using alternative ingredients like citrus fibres and novel product structuring techniques.

To deliver these innovations and cost savings, the CoE Structured Emulsions will aim to develop world class technical capabilities in the areas of fat technology and emulsification. Furthermore, the centre will also host Unilever's European product development centre for Foodsolutions, Unilever's Foodservice business, and the European packaging technology centre with a technology and material focus on tubs, pots and glass packaging.

Carla Hilhorst, Director of the new Centre of Excellence, stated: "With the opening of our Centre of Excellence Structured Emulsions we are establishing a world-class R&D capability that will lead to more winning innovations across the globe. With R&D experts from 20 countries we have a deep expertise and a wide perspective which will allow us to deliver taste, health and convenience for consumers around the world.

The CoE opening ended with the unveiling of the world's highest emulsifier sculpture, more than 3 meters tall and weighing 10 tons, designed by the R&D team together with its external partners Danisco and Inaxi.

The choice of material for the sculpture was linked to the expertise of the Centre of Excellence Structured Emulsions: an emulsifier is a small, but crucial 'chaperone' that brings together water & oil to make stable products: emulsions like margarine, dressings and dairy cream alternatives. This world's highest emulsifier sculpture served to symbolise the ambition for the new R&D centre: to be the 'world champion' in structured emulsions and their applications in tasty, healthy and convenient foods.

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