This week, international food brand Upfield Group announced its intent to invest €50 million ($56.5 million) into the Upfield Food Science Centre, a plant-based food innovation center it aims to open in Wageningen, Netherlands. Upfield is the parent company of global brands such as vegan cheese company Violife; Country Crock (which released its Plant Butter line last year); I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter (which offers a certified vegan “It’s Vegan” flavor); and Flora (which launched a fava-bean based vegan whipping cream this year in the UK). It plans to conduct research and development of a variety of plant-based products at the innovation center to expand its portfolio. 

“Investment in the new Upfield Food Science Centre will give us access to state-of-the art equipment, technology, and an inspiring and creative network of individuals and companies, allowing us to really push the boundaries of what we can achieve in natural, plant-based foods innovation,” John Verbakel, Chief Research and Development Officer at Upfield, said. “It is exciting to be part of a company committed to such a large-scale investment, which recognizes the importance of food science and plant-based foods.”

The company submitted plans to the Dutch Works Council for both the innovation center and a new Global Headquarters office, both of which it intends to open before the end of 2021.