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Innovating for a changing world

At Nestlé, continuous innovation is part of our DNA. It is a cornerstone of our success and key to our strategy. For over 150 years, we have built unique competitive advantages. We have unmatched expertise in understanding the relationship between nutrition and health. Our ability to identify local and global trends and translate these into meaningful innovations that meet consumer demand is what drives our growth.

Science-based innovation

Nestlé operates the world’s largest science and innovation network in the food and beverages industry. In 2018, we invested CHF 1.7 billion into R&D. This investment enables us to strengthen our solid scientific foundation, leading to new breakthrough science and technologies.

We continue to invest in long-term innovation projects with the potential for high returns. Examples include infant and maternal nutrition, healthy aging, personalized nutrition, and understanding the microbiome. We are committed to delivering on our Nutrition, Health and Wellness strategy by further reducing sugar, salt and fat. We are also eliminating food additives, while fortifying existing products with added nutritional benefits.

At the same time, we have increased the pace of innovation to be even more responsive to consumer trends. We are encouraging our researchers to think like entrepreneurs, to explore and rapidly test new ideas. In order to stay on top of emerging science and technology trends, we collaborate closely with academic institutions, start-ups and innovation partners across the world.

Rapidly-evolving consumer preferences

The food and beverages industry is transforming rapidly. Smaller, agile and fast-moving start-ups are challenging larger companies by increasing the rate of change. Consumer needs and expectations are also evolving. There is greater demand for healthier and more authentic products, including those that are locally inspired. These reflect a desire for greater transparency and new product experiences. There is also a growing global trend toward healthier lifestyles, including specific dietary requirements such as vegetarian, lactose-free or gluten-free.

Increasing our speed

Having great ideas is important, but the real opportunity lies in how fast we translate these into attractive and relevant products. We want to win in the marketplace by creating more new and impactful products, services and experiences. To launch new products quickly we use fast prototyping and leverage our size and scale for quick in-market testing. Our R&D and commercial functions join forces from the start to determine what is desirable to the consumer, feasible for the business and creates value for Nestlé. We combine this with a pragmatic approach to market entry. We are leveraging our existing industrial footprint, R&D facilities and co-manufacturing partners to support faster launches. This allows us to lower or defer capital expenditure commitments until we have evidence from the market place that an innovation can gain traction.

Addressing local consumer trends

When it comes to understanding consumers we remain at the forefront of our industry. We are a largely decentralized organization, which means that our teams are close to the consumer. We want to take greater advantage of this strength. To do so, we are simplifying our innovation processes, and empowering our local teams to move earlier on trends. We encourage these teams to take greater initiative and create products relevant to local consumers. Our ambition is to create a steady stream of innovative stand-out products.

Innovating with purpose: Advancing sustainability

Our innovation priorities are shaped by our purpose and commitment to creating value for all our stakeholders. This means that in addition to advancing the nutrition, health and wellness profile of our categories, we have a special focus on:

  • Developing recyclable packaging solutions to reduce our impact on the environment: we are investing in environmentally-friendly packaging solutions and alternative packaging materials.
  • Developing plant-based offerings and promoting sustainable nutrition: we are developing nutritious dairy and meat alternatives with a taste profile consumers love.
  • Promoting affordable nutrition: we are applying our expertise and novel technological solutions to make healthy, fortified products available at very low cost.

Reducing packaging waste: The Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences

The new Institute of Packaging Sciences is part of a company‑wide drive to make 100% of our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. The institute accelerates the research and development of recyclable, biodegradable and compostable polymers, as well as functional paper alternatives to plastics. This work is expected to deliver a pipeline of functional, safe and environmentally‑friendly packaging solutions.

Enhancing the science of petcare: Nestlé Purina Institute

Purina has been instrumental in shaping the science of pet nutrition. To continue that tradition, the newly-launched state‑of‑the‑art Purina Institute will promote global collaboration with veterinary and scientific thought leaders. This will enhance veterinary knowledge and increase our understanding of the critical role diet plays in pet health, which will help fuel and support future innovations.

Leveraging our plant-based protein platform to capture food industry trends: Garden Gourmet

Alternative proteins are a new growth platform that capture cross‑category opportunities by expanding our flexitarian and vegan product portfolios. The continued expansion of the Garden Gourmet range also reflects how we are encouraging consumers to participate in a more sustainable future by shifting to more plant-based diets.

A unique solution to capture vegan trends: Häagen-Dazs

Consumer appetite for vegan alternatives is shaping a new segment in ice cream. By creating a unique recipe that uses cocoa, peanut butter or coconut cream instead of less sustainable non‑dairy alternatives such as almond milk, the Häagen‑Dazs team was able to quickly leverage the trend across the Trio platform. With its signature thin chocolate layers, Trio offers an indulgent experience strongly differentiated from competitors.

Internal incubator enables rapid product launch: Outsiders

Outsiders pizza is an example of how Nestlé teams are embracing a start‑up mentality. These locally inspired pizzas were created by one of our internal incubators, with the product brought on-shelf within nine months of concept.