VEVEY, SWITZERLAND — Nestle S.A. has entered into a partnership with the Singapore government’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), under which the groups will set up global research programs in food science and technology. The agreement will focus on areas such as nutrition, packaging, data analytics and biotransformation. Biotransformation is the use of natural processes, such as fermentation, to transform raw materials into ingredients with nutritional or functional benefits.
“We are delighted to sign this research agreement with A*STAR,” said Stefan Catsicas, chief technology officer for Nestle. “It provides the framework for future collaboration that will help to strengthen our food science and technology capabilities in Singapore and beyond.
“Our goal is that closer collaboration with A*STAR will enable our team of food technologists, food engineers, chemists and microbiologists to share their knowledge and understanding in multiple areas of food science and to strengthen Nestle’s position as a global leader in food science, nutrition and technology.”
Nestle said the partnership will allow it to further expand its expertise in areas of biotransformation, including fermentation, enzyme technology and probiotics and to develop technology solutions to meet consumer expectations.
Though used in hundreds of food products across the world, many Asian products in particular are based on biotransformation processes such as fermentation. For example, tempe is made from fermented soybeans and kimchi is fermented vegetables with chili.
According to Nestle, biotransformation, which may take the form of fermentation and the use of enzymes and probiotics, may make products more digestible, improve their bioavailability and extend their shelf life.
Nestle products made using the natural fermentation process include MAGGI Liquid Seasoning based on wheat gluten fermentation and MAGGI bouillon cubes in West Africa based on soya fermentation.
Nestle operates 34 research and development and product technology centers around the world. The company’s Singapore center, its first in Asia, was set up in 1980. The center now employs approximately 120 people from 18 different nations. They work in engineering, packaging and design, analytical chemistry, microbiology, food and nutritional science. Nestle expanded the center last May.
The partnership in Singapore is the latest in a growing list of ventures undertaken by Nestle on the research front in recent years. Earlier this year, Nestle’s Institute of Health Sciences S.A. partnered with Madison, Wis.-based biotechnology firm Cellular Dynamics International, a move Nestle said is geared toward building its capabilities in research on health and disease by integrating novel adult-derived stem cells products.