Dannon has opened a new $9m research and development center at its White Plains, NY headquarters, in order to improve collaboration between departments and bring new products to market more quickly.
The company said that the Dannon Discovery & Innovation Center is intended to increase collaboration between R&D, marketing, sourcing and supplier development, and other departments that play a role in innovation and bringing new products to the market.
The company’s vice president of Research & Development, North America, Albe Wendt said: “By physically bringing the R&D team closer to other core business functions, we will foster greater collaboration to accelerate pursuit of our mission - to bring health through food to as many people as possible.”
The center contains state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, a sensory and consumer insights lab, and laboratories for quality analysis and fruit & flavor, the company said.
The company has also added dedicated office space for suppliers at the White Plains facility, with the intention of boosting collaboration, innovation and integration at every stage of the development process.
Senior director of public relations for Dannon Michael Neuwirth said: “The yogurt category has been propelled forward by developing innovative concepts for nutritious products… The Dannon Discovery and Innovation Center will help us further accelerate our growth.”
He told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “In the USA the average per capita consumption of yogurt is about 12 pounds per person per year, whereas in more developed markets, like many in Western Europe, per capita consumption is 5 times that.”
The company said that historically, the yogurt category in the US has grown due to innovative products being introduced to those customers who tend to have lower consumption levels of yogurt.
Most recently, the company introduced ‘French-style’ yogurts on the US market in late August, under the Activia Selects brand name, which Dannon described as having a “silky texture”.
Neuwirth said that six of the company’s team members have decided to relocate to New York and about 20 new people have been added to Dannon’s R&D team in recent months.
“The relocation of the R&D team to our headquarters is a significant step involving the relocation of 6 highly-skilled team members and the creation of a state-of-the-art facility in which we can create new products that are readily scalable for commercial production,” he said.