Unilever has invested €85m in the new center, named ‘Hive’ for its location amidst leading academic research centres, start-ups and external partners. From Hive, Unilever will lead its global Foods innovation programs for brands like Knorr, Hellmann’s, The Vegetarian Butcher and Calvė. Areas of research will include: plant-based ingredients and meat alternatives, efficient crops, sustainable food packaging and nutritious foods.
Together with its partners, Unilever aims to transform the food industry into a healthy and sustainable system, driving innovations that are healthier for people and for the planet.
Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, said: “We need a fundamental transformation of the food system if we are 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 to accelerate technology and innovation. Having a global research and development centre in Wageningen will enable us to do exactly this.”
The Wageningen area in the Netherlands is often nicknamed "Food Valley" – a nod to Silicon Valley – in recognition of the breakthroughs in agri-food tech being generated by start-ups, science institutes, NGOs and companies located in the area.
Unilever’s Hive has the highest certification for sustainable buildings: ‘BREEAM-NL Outstanding’. Large parts of the fully circular interior are accessible to the public. Earlier this year, the building won two prestigious design awards: the Global Design Award for Commercial Projects and the Global Public Award.