Nestlé's history began in 1866, with the foundation of the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company. In 1867, Henri Nestlé developed a breakthrough infant formula, "farine lactée", which saved the lives of infants who could not be breastfed. Then in 1905, the company he founded merged with Anglo-Swiss, to form what is now known as the Nestlé Group. These same aspirations to enhance quality of life and contribute to a healthier future persist 150 years on, but with higher demands. Over the years, people's needs and expectations have become more and more sophisticated; from merely wanting 'safer' foods, societal aspirations progressed on towards pursuing pleasure from and through food, to emphasizing on nutrition and health wellness. Owing to Nestlé's efforts in value creation, over 1.25 billion of its products are consumed every day in 191 countries. Today, Nestlé is the number one F&B company in Malaysia and Singapore, and is the biggest Halal food producer with 418 factories in 86 countries.
Nestlé has 40 research and development centres globally, working on innovations to create value to solve relevant needs and problems. APBN was invited to visit Nestlé R&D Centre Singapore, which was established in 1982. After a warm welcome by the Nestlé team, media from Malaysia and Singapore were taken on a tour of the facilities, to learn more about the research and product development work done at the centre.
Dr Daniel Hammer, the Head of Nestlé Quality Assurance Centre (NQAC), introduced the NQAC, the lead quality assurance centre for chemical contaminants testing for Nestlé in the Asia-Pacific. He explained the importance of safety and quality in Nestlé's heritage, and how it is relevant to every part of the analysis carried out at NQAC. NQAC helps ensure and grow consumer trust in Nestlé products which they can even enjoy with 'closed eyes'.
NQAC is equipped with a chemical lab to support the testing and analysis of various Nestlé products and raw materials. Some of the Nestlé products manufactured in Africa, Asian and Oceania region are sent to this centre to be tested for pesticide residue, heavy metals, mycotoxin, process contaminants, antibiotics, and potential contaminants from packaging and food contact materials.
The Nestlé Singapore R&D Centre's Pilot Plant team, led by Mr Stuart Clark, translates Nestlé products from mere ideas at bench scale into tangible product(s) that are tested in the pilot plant, a scaled down version of Nestlé factories. The team supports the regional and global product development processes for MILO, NESCAFÉ and Maggi.
Nestlé's R&D Centre also houses a sensory lab to conduct consumer research, ideation, prototyping and sensory analysis. Dr Sim Beng Joo, Department Head of Consumer Sensory Insights, said that we can find MILO in nearly 80 countries - all made with recipes or formulas customised to satisfy local preferences and culture, while retaining the product(s)'s signature "MILO taste". The Nestlé R&D Centre hosts regular tasting sessions with consumers and trained sensory panellists to ensure that Nestlé's products are compatible with consumer preferences.
Do you know how many cups of MILO are consumed by people every second over the world? According to Dr Sze Tan, Managing Director of Nestlé R&D Centre Singapore, the answer is 310 cups! The R&D Centre plays an important role in ensuring the consistent quality and taste of MILO. She also mentioned that Nestlé is committed to reducing the sugar and sodium content in Nestlé products without compromising taste by 5% and 10% respectively, by 2020.
The media tour ended with a MILO Discovery Tour at Nestlé's Jurong Factory, the largest malt extract producer in the world. Jurong Factory started to produce MILO in 1984. Named after the famous Wrestler, Milo of Croton, who was renowned for his strength, MILO contains essential nutrients and minerals including Protomalt®, made from malt barley. Children can obtain 5 vitamins and 150g of calcium with just one glass of MILO 3-in-1. In 2002, MILO was further improved with ACTIGEN-E, a unique combination of eight vitamins and four minerals, which helps to unlock energy from food. The recipe was later improved with natural goodness, more malt and more milk to provide more nutritional value than simple carbohydrates. The Nestlé team is consistently finding ways to improve the taste of Nestlé's products to delight their customers. They recently launched the customised MILO Gao Siew Dai (more cocoa and milk, lesser sugar) in Singapore and MILO Gao (more cocoa and milk) in Malaysia.
At the end of the day, Dr Sze Tan concluded that one has to take a holistic approach to establish a balanced and nutritious diet and, in turn, lead a healthier life.