Friday, 02 June 2017 12:24

Best dairy innovator will win – Arla

Written by 
Arla researchers at work in the new innovation centre. Arla researchers at work in the new innovation centre.

European dairy co-op Arla is putting innovation at the centre of its growth plans for the next decade.

It has launched an innovation center in Aarhus, Denmark, opened May 16 by Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

Arla says trends, technologies and products that will shape future worldwide dairy will be created hand-in-hand with chefs, scientists, consumers and customers at its new facility.

“Arla’s innovation center will play a pivotal role in its collaboration with customers and will be central to its strategy Good Growth 2020, by adding more value-added products to Arla’s world markets,” the co-op says.

“Arla will also work with scientists and universities to research... dairy farming, prevention of lifestyle diseases, innovative packaging and technologies to more easily transport milk and fresh dairy products across continents.”

Arla products are sold in 100 countries; the biggest markets are UK, Germany, Sweden and Denmark.

Its plan is by 2020 to be growing branded sales in four emerging markets outside the EU: Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, US, and China and Southeast Asia.

Already the world’s biggest organic dairy producer, Arla says those products will be growing more by 2020.

Chief executive Peder Tuborgh says the co-op, founded in the 1880s, “has in its DNA collaboration to achieve better results”.

“Our new global innovation center will apply that approach to our R&D of new products and new ways to consume them.

“The global food industry, never more competitive than today, especially in Europe and the emerging markets, [also has a] booming middle class of consumers in Asia, Africa and beyond. The best innovator wins.”

The new innovation centre sits among food companies and research centres in a city aiming to be the ‘Silicon Valley’ of food development and innovation. That location betters its chances of new partnerships and alliances, says senior vice president of R&D, Sven Thormahlen.

“[The centre] will drive and accelerate the environment as a beacon to attract even more international companies and research institutes. It will be a huge asset for us and the entire Danish food cluster,” he says.

Arla’s innovation model has a strong competitive edge compared to other international food companies, Thormahlen says, because of its cooperative ownership by 12,000 farmers in seven European countries; this enables it to control the entire value chain, innovating from farm to fork.

“Farming and processing are combined every step of the way. All our products contain as few and as natural ingredients as possible and our systematic approach to health is integral to our work with universities and in product innovation.

“Everyone is focused on how we can help people live healthier lives and give as many people as possible access to natural, nourishing dairy products.”

Arla facts

World’s fourth-largest dairy company, owned by 12,000 dairy farmers in Denmark, Sweden, UK, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Arla has grown by 50% since 2010 by strong brand building in supermarkets and by mergers and acquisitions.

Eyeing major value creation in its key European business and in key markets outside the EU by 2020.

Fast testing crucial

Food retailers will be able to taste and co-create foods of the future at Arla’s new innovation centre.

The co-op says its innovation processes will vastly accelerate because of its advanced in-house dairy test plant for fast testing of new ideas and flavours.

A faster route from idea to finished product will give an edge to many Arla food retailers and foodservice customers in Europe, US, Asia and the Middle East, where innovation is the chief means of driving up market share in any food category.

Says Peder Tuborgh, “Arla serves retail and foodservice customers around the world, [offering them]... greater involvement in the innovative process. We believe in open innovation, and our new facility sets the perfect stage for that.”

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