Nestlé celebrated the grand opening of its new Nestlé Research & Development Center in Solon, OH last week—marking the completion of the $50 million, two-year project dedicated to advancing product development for the company’s frozen and chilled food businesses.

“Few areas of research are as complex as food research,” says Johannes Baensch, head of global product and technology development, Nestec Ltd. “Nestlé has a long-standing reputation for excellence in research on food and nutrition and this research center is regarded as one of the world’s leading laboratories in food and life sciences. By creating Nestlé R&D Solon, we are transporting a significant piece of our global research expertise to the United States, our largest global market.”

Food experts stationed at the new 144,000-sq.-ft. facility will focus on product innovation and renovation with the added goal of exploring ways to reduce sodium and saturated fat, eliminate partially hydrogenated oils, incorporate more vegetables and create gluten-free and high-protein options.

Nestlé included a pilot plant in the design of the new facility, where it will test the latest technology advancements and new recipes. The center will also support company production facilities around the world by providing guidance in the areas of nutrition, food processing, food quality and food safety, Nestlé says.

 “We’re experiencing one of the most profound shifts in how people eat right now. To address the ever-changing landscape, we’re striving to make our products healthier and tastier using unmatched R&D capability, nutrition science and passion for quality in everything we do,” says Paul Grimwood, chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA.

Throughout the years, Nestlé has consolidated its US frozen and chilled food businesses into one campus in Solon. Brands either launched or relocated to this Ohio area include Stouffer’s, Lean Cuisine, Nestlé Toll House, Hot Pockets, Lean Pockets, DiGiorno, California Pizza Kitchen, Tombstone and Jacks.

 “The new center is an invaluable addition to our R&D capabilities,” says Sean Westcott, director of Nestlé R&D Solon. “We’ve truly created a community of experts to help fuel innovative ideas that offer consumers the frozen and chilled foods choices they want.”