Nutrition and health
We can only meet the needs of this growing population through innovation, while protecting the environment. Within R&D, we are driving bold science and technology, to offer people safe, affordable, high quality nutrition.
By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach almost 10 billion, while the lack of affordable nutritious foods continues to be a challenge, with millions suffering from hunger, micronutrient deficiencies and malnutrition. On the other hand, consumers are demanding healthier, natural and more authentic food products and shifting towards a plant-based diet. Sustainability and environmental concerns are leading consumers to demand food choices that are not only good for them, but good for the planet too.
By speeding up the transformation of our products in line with consumer trends and choices, we’re launching tastier and healthier products with a better environmental footprint that contribute to a balanced diet. Our plant-based food research is vital here, and we have around 300 scientists, engineers and product developers – almost 10% of R&D employees worldwide – active in this area.
For example, we recently launched a protein-based vegan burger that is high in fiber and a source of iron. It achieves a Nutri-Score 'A' grade in Europe, has an approximately 80% lower carbon footprint compared to the meat alternative, yet doesn’t compromise on taste or texture.
Our plant-based story goes way beyond burgers too. We’ve also developed alternatives for meatballs, ground beef, chicken nuggets and chicken fillets – even vegan tuna.
Plant-based dairy alternatives are nutritious, great-tasting and have a favorable environmental footprint. Here, our plant-based and lactose-free products cater for consumers who cannot consume dairy products or simply want to reduce their consumption of animal-based products.
Today Nestlé offers a variety of products made from rice, oat, soy, coconut and almond non-dairy alternatives. Examples include natural bliss coffee creamers in the U.S., Nesfit rice- and oat-based drinks in Brazil, a new vegan-friendly Milo in Australia, as well as Nescafé cappuccinos and lattes in Europe and Oceania. Later this year, there are also plans to launch a non-dairy cheese range to complement our existing plant-based burgers.
Alongside this increased focus on natural, plant-based foods and beverages, we’re working to improve the nutrition of our products generally - by removing artificial colors, reducing salt, sugar and saturated fats and adding healthier ingredients such as whole grains and micronutrients.
Today 56% of the global population lives on USD 2-10 per day, so our work to provide affordable nutrition, and diversified diets that deliver all the nutrients people require, is an important goal. Another vital R&D focus is our work to fortify affordable products with locally relevant micronutrients.
We are focused on closing the 'protein gap' by adjusting processes, recipes and using local raw materials – to develop innovative products using affordable high quality, plant-based proteins.
We research and develop science-based nutritional solutions to promote health across life stages from pre-conception to healthy aging. Key programs include gastrointestinal health, nutrition and dietary recommendations, metabolic health, brain health, healthy aging and personalized nutrition.
In the field of infant and maternal nutrition, we’re looking at breastmilk composition and the impact of nutrition on the first 1000 days.
One of our recent advances is the inclusion of Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) in infant formulas. HMOs are the third most abundant solid component in breastmilk after lactose and fat and play a key role in supporting an infant’s intestinal function and immune system.
We’re looking at how the mother’s diet influences her breast milk composition, and ways to optimize this. Maternal nutrition is another important research area, and in 2019 we launched MATERNA Opti-Lac, a probiotic-based supplement for lactating mothers that helps reduce the risk of breast pain and mastitis.
Over many years, Nestlé has studied the gut microbiome and its evolving composition throughout different life stages, in humans and pets. Recently, we partnered with the University of California San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation (CMI) to further increase our understanding of the microbiome’s impact on human health and accelerate the development of innovative nutritional solutions to promote health and wellbeing.
We’re translating our microbiome research into prebiotic, probiotic and symbiotic products that help maintain health digestion and wellbeing. One example is Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements Calming Care, which contains a probiotic strain that helps dogs maintain calm behavior.
By exploring the relationship between nutrition and aging, we’re looking at the mitochondrial function of cells and developing innovative products, from Nestlé Health Science, that support healthy aging – in areas such as muscle, joint and bone health, brain health, and metabolic health.
Personalized nutrition is another research priority for us, and we’re developing solutions targeting people with shared characteristics, e.g. age or biological sex. For example, we’ve developed a digital tool that addresses the needs of school-aged children in the Philippines facing an iron gap.
We’re also exploring more advanced levels of personalization, bringing together our research into dietary patterns, genetics, the microbiome and metabolic response.