9 March 2012
The world’s biggest food company, Nestle, is entering into a research partnership with the South African government aimed at promoting the scientific development of the country and the continent as a whole.
The partnership is being coordinated by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which falls under the Department for Science and Technology, and was agreed on after visits to Nestle’s main research centre in Switzerland.
It will offer South African scientists exposure to Nestle’s extensive research capabilities, in particular the company’s expertise in nutrition, food science and food safety.
At the same time, it will allow Nestle to better understand the nutrition needs of South African consumers, and accelerate the development of products with an improved nutrition profile at the right price for consumers in emerging markets.
Nestle executive vice-president Nandu Nandkishore said in a statement on Tuesday that the collaboration would “help to provide the scientific basis for sound nutrition and food safety policies, as well as identify research needs for science-based regulations on food, nutrition and health”.
Importance of biodiversity
Nestle said on its website that some of the researchers taking part in the partnership would study “how locally sourced ingredients can be used to create foods that provide health benefits”.
Nestle researchers are currently involved in the search for new bioactive ingredients, and in testing how well these target different bodily tissues, as well as their effectiveness in promoting health.
The company “recognises the importance of biodiversity and fully supports the principle of fair access to local ingredients and to the sharing of their benefits, as described in the Convention on Biological Diversity of 1993 and the more recent Nagoya Protocol of 2010,” Nestle said.
Developing SA’s biosciences industry
CSIR chief executive officer Sibusiso Sibisi said the joint venture would “add value to our indigenous resources through exposure to modern technologies for developing new food products.
“New products developed through this collaboration will be manufactured in South Africa in compliance with international standards, leading to the development of new skills and ultimately the creation of new jobs in the biosciences industry,” Sibisi added.