US food giant Heinz to invest strongly in innovation with new European research center in Holland



HJ Heinz company is to make its biggest investment in innovation ever, with the construction of a European research center in the Netherlands. The city of Nijmegen will be home to the largest Heinz innovation center outside of the US, with more than 100 top product developers working hard at the company's innovation performance.

The manufacturer of the famous Heinz Tomato Ketchup, as well as Dutch-based brands such as Honig, Roosvicee, Venz, De Ruijter and Brinta has, therefore, set itself a considerable target for innovation and quality, allowing the strong Heinz brands room for further growth.

The presence of the research center in the knowledge heart of the Dutch Food and Health Valley is a great boost for the Dutch government, whose economic policy priority lies in attracting such enterprises.

"This serves to reinforce our ambition to have a global reputation as a knowledge economy,” says Minister Verhagen (Economic Affairs, Agriculture & Innovation). “I am proud that we have convinced Heinz to opt for the Netherlands. It proves we belong in the top echelons of the agri-food world.”

Verhagen was supported in this by experts at the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA), the provinces of Gelderland and Utrecht, the municipalities of Nijmegen and Zeist as well as regional development agencies like Oost NV and Invest Utrecht.

The current Heinz research department in Nijmegen, which works not only for Heinz Tomato Ketchup but also on innovations for Dutch heritage brands such as Honig, Venz, Roosvicee, Royal de Ruijter and Brinta, will be integrated with the new innovation center. The center is expected to be completed by early 2013.

"We are delighted that Heinz headquarters has offered us the opportunity to rebuild this innovation junction in Nijmegen. We are at the heart of the region where all expertise on food and health is bundled, and therefore, offer an attractive workplace for top talent in the field of research and product development”, explains Mark Atkins, Vice President R&D of Heinz in Europe.

“The research center will initially be home to around 100 employees, who are already based in the Netherlands.  These are product developers, researchers and quality managers. The building will be an inspiring location where consumers, clients, researchers and marketing people come together to work at the latest Heinz innovations for the future.“

To support its innovation agenda, Heinz will also be reinforcing its European Supply Chain organization and will consolidate and centrally lead its strategic procurement, manufacturing, logistics and inventory control. This organization will be based in Zeist. By strengthening the knowledge of Heinz products and categories in which the company operates, it will support the developers in Nijmegen in their efforts to arrive at even faster and better innovations.

Roel van Neerbos, President Continental Europe at Heinz: “We wish to create elite teams of talents who, by cooperating closely, can develop better and more innovative products even faster. We want a more innovative range to reach supermarkets sooner, thereby also improving the services to our clients."

About H.J. Heinz Company

H.J. Heinz Company is one of the world’s leading marketers and producers of healthy, convenient and affordable foods specializing in ketchup, sauces, meals, soups, snacks and infant nutrition. With a € 11 billion turnover (2011) and 36,000 employees Heinz belongs to the top ten largest food companies in the world. Europe accounts for a third of the company's turnover.

Source: Heinz Continental Europe press release, 26 May 2011