Nestlé adapts R&D model

30 June 2011

VEVEY: Nestlé, the food group, is modifying its approach to product testing to ensure its brands achieve strong taste and health credentials.

Over the past three years, the company has subjected products worth a combined CHF36.4bn ($43.8bn; €30.5bn; £27.4bn) in sales to this new regime, which is divided into two parts

The first, defined as the "60/40+ dimension", means 60% of consumers in the market where items will be sold are required to prefer Nestlé's offering to leading competitors in blind taste tests.

Secondly, the firm demands that the product in question boasts proven health benefits, alongside meeting localised dietary and regulatory needs.

Each year, Nestlé identifies a rolling set of goods from the 18 segments in which it operates to be assessed, prioritising best sellers and new launches to maximise the impact of these efforts.

Moreover, the organisation's advertising typically places a major emphasis on the items meeting the "60/40+" criteria to enhance visibility and awareness levels in the market.

"We employ the 60/40+ programme to deliver on both taste and nutrition," Sanjay Sehgal, head of Nestlé's Corporate Wellness Unit, said.

"Since it began, more than half a million consumers have helped to shape our products by participating in testing."

"We are committed to doing this without compromising on taste. We strongly believe that nutrition must also be pleasurable if it is to be enjoyed as part of a healthy balanced diet."

Lines developed in this way include Knacki sausages, from the Herta brand, and Le Bon Paris cooked ham, sold in France, and containing 25% less salt than the category average.

Similarly, Maggi Masala-ae-Magic spice mix, launched in India last year, is fortified with iron, iodine, and vitamin A, to give low-income shoppers an appealing and beneficial meal option.

Uncle Toby's Fruit Fix, available in Australia, was tailored to provide vitamin C, folate and fibre, and counts as one daily serving of fruit.

Nestlé outlined its framework for cutting out specific substances considered to have detrimental health effects when "consumed in excess", and plans to boost a number of nutritional ingredients, in 2003.

Trans fatty acids, saturated fats, salt and sugar are among the constituents Nestlé hopes to reduce across its food and beverage portfolio.

As such, the company has slashed the amount of salt in the popular Maggi Masala Noodles in India by 30%, and the salt content for Maggi bouillon cubes by 25% in the Netherlands.

Elsewhere, a recently-introduced bouillon line sold in the Dominican Republic also now carries 25% less salt.

Data sourced from Nestlé; additional content by Warc staff