A new state-of-the-art global innovation center is officially opening today in Denmark as dairy farming cooperative Arla Foods’ celebrates its pioneering investment. Built in the heart of one of the world’s fastest growing food clusters in Aarhus, Arla’s new innovation center promises to be the birthplace of future trends, technologies and products that will shape the worldwide dairy category, as well as a collaboration hub for chefs, scientists, consumers and customers.
Arla’s new innovation center will play a pivotal role in the company’s collaboration with its customers and will play a central part in Arla’s pursuit of its strategy, Good Growth 2020, by adding more value-added products to Arla’s markets around the world. Arla will also work with scientists and universities on research within a number of areas such as dairy farming, prevention of lifestyle diseases, innovative packaging and technologies that can make it easier to transport milk and fresh dairy products across continents.
“Consumers indicate the direction in which a company like Arla must develop. In the future, we need to understand the wishes and needs of consumers better and earlier, and we must consider how we can implement them. Consumers do not want artificial products, no long ingredients lists. They want quality products that contribute to a balanced nutrition. Against this background, research and development play an increasingly important role at Arla. If we want to provide Arla products to consumers worldwide, we must have the finger on the pulse of the time - worldwide. Products created for outside European consumers must satisfy the market requirements and correspond to the purchasing power of the local population,” Sven Thormahlen, Vice President for Arla Innovation.
The Group’s leading markets include the UK, Germany, Sweden and Denmark, however Arla products are sold in more than 100 countries and there are plans for major growth in four strategic markets outside of the European Union. Arla’s objective is to build on branded sales in the Middle East and North Africa, USA, Sub-Saharan Africa as well as China and Southeast Asia. And by 2020, Arla plans to expand its global organic dairy sales.
Well-known brands like Lurpak and Castello belong to the Arla family and Arla Foods is also the world's largest manufacturer of organic dairy products.
CEO of Arla Foods, Peder Tuborgh, explains the importance of innovation in the roots of the company and how emerging markets are shaping the future of the global dairy industry.
“As a dairy cooperative, we are built on farmers getting together in the 1880s to create better opportunities together. It is in our DNA to collaborate to achieve better results. Our new global innovation center will apply that same approach to our research and development of not just new products but also new ways to consume them,” he says.
The global food industry has never been more competitive than it is today – especially in Europe and across the emerging markets with its booming middle class of consumers in Asia, Africa and beyond. The best innovator wins.”
Cluster of Food Industry Companies
Arla’s new innovation center is located in a cluster of food industry companies and research centers in the European Culture Capitol of 2017, which has set out to become the ‘Silicon Valley’ of food development and innovation.
“By securing a location in the midst of one of the world’s strongest and most ambitious food clusters, Arla will gain much better opportunities to strike new partnerships and alliances. And we are confident that our new global innovation center will accelerate and drive the environment and become the beacon that will attract even more international companies and research institutes. It will be a huge asset for us and the entire Danish food cluster,” says senior Vice President of Research & Development in Arla, Sven Thormahlen.
“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 an integral part of our collaborations with universities and in our 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.”
Co-Creating Foods of the Future
The center has an in-house dairy test plant where new ideas and flavors will be tested quickly. Arla expects a much faster route from idea to product which will appeal to retailers and foodservice customers across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the US, where innovative edge is a key differentiator to driving up market shares in any food category.
“Arla serves retail and foodservice customers around the world, and we are very excited to offer our customers a greater involvement in the innovative process. We believe in open innovation, and our new facility sets the perfect stage for that kind of collaboration,” adds Tuborgh.
Since 2010, Arla - the world’s fourth largest dairy company and owned by 12,000 dairy farmers in Denmark, Sweden, UK, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg - has grown by more than 50% through strong brand building in the dairy aisle and a series of mergers and acquisitions.
“We have set high ambitions for our business in the coming years, because we believe and see that demand is growing worldwide for natural dairy products that help people make good food choices. We are investing heavily in innovation to respond to this global demand and to create better returns for our farmer-owners. The work that will take place at our new innovation centre is crucial to us achieving our goals,” adds Tuborgh.
What’s in the Innovation Center?
The building consists of a small and compact dairy pilot plant, a wide range of laboratories, the Consumer House, the Customer Collaboration Lab and modern office facilities designed to support creativity and cross-functional projects.
In terms of sustainability, it is designed as a carbon neutral building, excluding the process areas. The building also meets the requirements of the Low Energy Building Class 2020 stipulated by the Danish building regulations. Moreover, water saving fixtures are installed throughout, and the building has a total of 525 m2 solar cells on the roof for the production of renewable energy.
Agro Food Park: Agro Food Park, in Aarhus’ Skejby district, is a fast-growing innovation ecosystem for the international agriculture and food industry. Currently, 75 companies and institutions, including Food Universe, Food Observatory, Business Incubator, Foodture lab (gastronomic lab) and the Food Faculty at Aarhus University, employ a total of more than 900 employees.
Arla’s new innovation center will employ 150 specialists from different parts of the world and is being officially opened by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark later today (May 16).