Globally plant-based foods are becoming increasingly popular. There are many different approaches for plant-based eating, including vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian. Flexitarianism is a recent trend that focuses on increasing the consumption of plant-based food while simultaneously reducing meat intake.
Like many lifestyle choices, there are different reasons for people to choose a plant-based diet, including dietary intolerances, general well-being, animal welfare, sustainability and climate change.
According to recent studies conducted by Nestlé Research scientists in partnership with academics from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, a significant improvement in metabolic health indicators such as cholesterol, blood lipids and glucose tolerance can be seen within 48 hours of consuming a vegan diet. This can be attributed to the fact that vegan diets can be healthy with the appropriate selection of foods that adequately meet recommended nutritional requirements, in addition to being naturally high in dietary fibers, which are beneficial for glucose and lipid control.
To improve the understanding of the health impact of different types of diets, the studies further looked at the differences of several metabolic health indicators such as blood glucose (postprandial response), insulin, lipids and amino acids following the consumption of vegan, vegetarian and animal-based meals. These results showed that the levels of macro and micronutrients in each meal were more important than the type of diet eaten.
The authors suggest modification of the vegan diet to vegetarian could improve some health indicators. Similarly, modification of the animal-based diet to include vegetarian or vegan components could also improve health. These findings suggest that a flexitarian or semi-vegetarian diet could be most beneficial to health, as it can combine all of the nutritional benefits offered from vegan, vegetarian or animal-based diets.
At Nestlé, we are adding more innovative, healthy plant-based products to our portfolio in response to the increased consumer demand. In Europe, we launched the Garden Gourmet range, which offers consumers seeking a flexitarian, vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, alternatives to meat such as the vegan filet pieces.
We are accelerating new product launches across our portfolio through our well-known brands like the Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss non-dairy creamers and Nesfit plant-based smoothies.
Lastly, we are also investing in new brands such as Terrafertil and Sweet Earth, which have widened our natural, organic and plant-based offerings in Latin America, the United States and the United Kingdom.
For more information on our plant-based innovations see:
Our stories: Meatless meals
For more information on the research studies see:
Draper et al., Vegan and animal meal composition and timing influence glucose and lipid related postprandial metabolic profiles. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research (2019).
Wei et al., Metabotypes related to meat and vegetable intake reflect microbial, lipid and amino acid metabolism in healthy people. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research (2018).
Draper et al., A 48-hour vegan diet challenge in healthy women and men induces a branch-chain amino acid related, health associated, metabolic signature. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research (2017).
Nestlé today announced together with partners the launch of the Future Food Initiative, a joint research program between Swiss universities and industrial partners. The initiative will support Nestlé in the development of trend-based, tasty, nutritious and sustainable food and beverage products.
The Future Food Initiative brings together Swiss academic and industrial partners leading in nutritional science and food technology, including ETH Zurich, the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), as well as Swiss companies Nestlé, Bühler and Givaudan.
The initiative encourages food and nutrition research in areas relevant to consumer trends and sustainability, and it includes a postdoctoral fellowship program to promote young scientists. The first research projects will focus on plant-based nutrition and ancient plant varieties.
Stefan Palzer, CTO of Nestlé S.A. said, "We accelerate innovation in collaboration with a variety of external partners, including world-class academia, globally leading suppliers and creative start-ups across the world. To address open scientific questions and challenges related to food trends and sustainable nutrition is key for us as we create tasty and nutritious food for all age groups. As one of the initiators of this important Swiss research initiative, we reaffirm our commitment to further strengthen the unique Swiss research ecosystem for food and nutrition research."
A significant part of Nestlé’s global R&D organization is located in Switzerland, including Nestlé Research. Nestlé Research employs about 800 people in Lausanne, where it combines fundamental science at the highest level with high-end analytical platforms and strong prototyping capabilities to accelerate the translation of science into innovation. In 2017, Nestlé made an R&D investment of around CHF 1 billion in Switzerland, which corresponds to about 58% of the total Nestlé R&D investment worldwide.
Learn more about:
The Initiative and the Fellowship Program
Nestlé’s innovation in a rapidly changing environment
Nestlé’s actions to tackle plastic waste
The Global Alliance for Youth
Nestlé’s PhD student program
Nestlé has acquired a novel technology developed by New Zealand scientists that will enable it to address one of the world’s most widespread nutritional deficiencies.
The unique technology, FERRI PROTM was developed to address nutritional iron deficiency, without adversely affecting the taste of food and beverages by researchers at the Riddet Institute Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), Massey University.
"We developed the technology to help to address the world’s most important nutritional deficiency, as over 1.6 billion people are suffering from iron deficiency anaemia. However, our goal was to not only address iron deficiency, but to address it without impacting product quality," said Harjinder Singh, Director of the Institute and distinguished professor, who also led the research team at Massey University.
According to the World Health Organization, women and children are particularly at risk for iron deficiency, and if left untreated it can cause serious mental and physical harm.
To help reach vulnerable groups such as school-age children and expectant mothers, Nestlé fortifies affordable foods and beverages, like condiments and noodles, cereals and children’s milks. The acquisition of this technology will enable it to continue to make progress towards its efforts to reach millions of children and families.
"At Nestlé we believe that we have a key role to play in support of global efforts to tackle the global burden of micronutrient deficiencies. Through this collaboration with Massey University, we will have access to an innovative technology that enables us to effectively fortify our foods and beverages without compromising the quality and taste," said Petra Klassen Wigger, Head of Nutrition, Health and Wellness at Nestlé Research.
For more information read
How Nestlé is committed to address under-nutrition through micronutrient fortification
What our expert Petra Klassen Wigger has to say about our contribution towards ending hidden hunger
Nestlé has today opened a research and development center for maternal and infant nutrition in Limerick, Ireland.
The opening marks the completion of a three three-year construction program with an investment of EUR 27 million (CHF 30 million).
The new R&D center will focus on scientific research to support innovation in milk-based maternal and infant nutrition products for the global market. This will help provide nutritional solutions for the crucial first 1,000 days of life.
More than 40 research staff work at the center, which is located together with Nestlé’s Wyeth Nutrition manufacturing plant. Wyeth Nutrition Ireland produces a range of premium milk powder products for infants, young children and mothers, for export to world markets.
The center incorporates state-of-the-art laboratory facilities as well as a full pilot-scale manufacturing line to facilitate the development and testing of new products from initial concept through to product deployment. This will help increase the pace of innovation in the category, which is one of Nestlé’s most important growth drivers.
Optimal nutrition during the first 1,000 days is crucial for lifelong health. Breastmilk is the ideal nutrition for babies. For those infants who cannot be breastfed or fed on breastmilk as recommended, infant formula is the only suitable breastmilk substitute (BMS) recognised as appropriate by the WHO.
For more on the R&D center, read the press release
Nestlé and Danimer Scientific, a leading developer and manufacturer of biodegradable plastic products, today announced a global partnership to develop biodegradable bottles. Nestlé and Danimer Scientific will collaborate to design and manufacture bio-based resins for Nestlé’s water business using Danimer Scientific’s PHA polymer Nodax™. In 2018, the University of Georgia (U.S.A.) confirmed in a study that Nodax™ is an effective biodegradable alternative to petrochemical plastics. PepsiCo, an existing partner of Danimer, may also gain access to the resins developed under this collaboration.
Read the full press release
19 December 2018 - Nestlé has appointed a Scientific Advisory Board for research and development, which met for the first time from 20-22 November, 2018 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The Scientific Advisory Board is an independent advisory panel comprised of distinguished academics and thought leaders, who meet once a year to advise Nestlé on the long-term scientific strategy.
With expertise in nutrition, food science, health related disciplines and engineering, each advisory board member plays an important role in providing scientific guidance and expert recommendations.
The advisory board also represents a platform where Nestlé researchers and external experts can share knowledge and insights on scientific topics of mutual interest.
Stefan Palzer, Chief Technology Officer of Nestlé said, “Regular exchange with the academic world is central for us to focus and strengthen our innovation capabilities. This advisory board of distinguished scientists provides us with an exceptional outside perspective, allowing us to remain at the forefront of science and develop innovative concepts that enhance the quality of life and contribute to a healthier future.”
Nestlé Scientific Advisory Board members include:
- Prof. Tamas BARTFAI, Stockholm University
- Prof. Sir Stephen BLOOM, Imperial College London
- Prof. Adam DREWNOWSKI, University of Washington, Seattle
- Prof. Thomas HOFMANN, Technische Universität München
- Prof. Ian MACDONALD, The University of Nottingham
- Prof. Simin Nikbin MEYDANI, Tufts University
- Prof. Neena MODI, Imperial College London
- Prof. Susan OZANNE, University of Cambridge
- Prof. Erich WINDHAB, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich
- Prof. Ramnik XAVIER, Massachusetts General Hospital and Broad Institute Boston
Nestlé’s commitment to support emerging scientists has taken a step forward with the signing of a framework agreement with the University of Lausanne (UNIL). The agreement sets the basis for students from UNIL's Faculty of Biology and Medicine to obtain their PhD or MD-PhD title from UNIL, while performing their project at Nestlé Research.
Nestlé Research, primarily based in Lausanne, Switzerland, performs fundamental science at the highest level to accelerate the translation of discoveries into breakthrough innovations. UNIL is one of the leading public institutions of higher education and research in Switzerland. The agreement strengthens interactions between both organizations, making it a key academic partnership.
UNIL students will be able to apply for PhD/ MD-PhD training positions within Nestlé Research’s Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS), with the opportunity to carry out projects in areas related to Brain Health, Gastrointestinal Health, Metabolic Health, Musculo-Skeletal Health, Nutrition & Dietary Recommendations, Multi-Omics Profiling and Cell Biology. UNIL academics and Nestlé Research scientists will co-supervise the students while providing them with relevant professional guidance.
Students who participate will also have the opportunity to gain high-quality research experience, in an interdisciplinary environment in state-of-the-art facilities. Meanwhile, Nestlé Research will be able to build a pipeline of emerging talents, contributing to their education and raising the standards of science.
Nestlé Research first started the collaborative PhD Programme in 2012, and there are currently 15 students completing their PhDs from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Technische Universität München (TUM).
The programme plays an integral role towards Nestlé’s commitment to support young people in their transition towards their professional life, for which Nestlé has a range of activities, as part of the Global Youth Initiative.
Climate change is a critical global challenge as shifting weather patterns are threatening food security. In the last century, average global temperatures rose by almost 1°C, forcing farmers to adjust how, when and where they grow their crops.
A new study published in Nature Sustainability, explores country-specific scenarios of what diets could look like from now until 2050, taking into account socio-economic factors and the impact of climate change.
The study was a collaborative effort from researchers representing University of Illinois, US; University of California Davis, US; the International Food Policy Research Institute, US; the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, South Australia; Nestlé Research, Switzerland and more.
According to the findings, unless society acts now in making fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and pulses more available and affordable, there is a risk of serious micronutrient deficiencies globally. The resulting effects of micronutrient deficiencies include increased rates of stunted growth, weakened immune systems and impaired intellectual development.
Currently, the World Health Organization estimates that more than two billion people suffer from ‘hidden hunger’ or micronutrient deficiencies, with children under five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. Climate change will further intensify the problem, as many parts of the world will experience shortfalls in producing enough food with the key micronutrients necessary for maintaining health.
Dr Karen Cooper, Nestlé Research scientist and one of the co-authors says, “This study highlights the risk of future micronutrient deficiencies and the adverse effects that climate change would bring, especially in already vulnerable populations. The study points to the need of focusing more research efforts on micronutrient dense foods to raise their productivity and affordability in a climate-uncertain future.”
For more information read:
Nestlé today announced the creation of the Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences, dedicated to the discovery and development of functional, safe and environmentally friendly packaging solutions. This is a step further to achieve the Company’s commitment to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.
Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider said, "We want to be a leader in developing the most sustainable packaging solutions for our food and beverage products. To achieve this, we are enhancing our research capabilities to develop new packaging materials and solutions. Through this, we hope to address the growing packaging waste problem, in particular plastics. We aim to minimize our impact on the natural environment while safely delivering to our consumers healthier and tastier products."
The Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences, which is part of Nestlé’s global research organization, will be located in Lausanne, Switzerland. It will employ around 50 people and include a state-of-the-art laboratory complex as well as facilities for rapid prototyping.
Read the full press release