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Nestlé opens Chocolate Center of Excellence in Switzerland

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The Center combines artistic creativity and cutting-edge science, and underlines the strategic importance of chocolate business for the company

Vevey, Switzerland, 9 September 2009 - Nestlé recently inaugurated the Chocolate Centre of Excellence in Broc, Switzerland, in the presence of Doris Leuthard, Swiss Minister of Economic Affairs, Beat Vonlanthen, Minister of Canton Fribourg, Stéphane Sudan, Mayor of Broc, as well as Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke, Petraea Heynike, Nestlé Executive Vice President responsible for the Strategic Business Units, Marketing, Sales and Nespresso, and Werner Bauer, Nestlé Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

The Chocolate Centre of Excellence builds on Nestlé's chocolate-making heritage and will spearhead its drive in the premium and luxury chocolate segment, which in turn will influence the company's entire chocolate range. The Centre combines a team of Nestlé specialists, from fine cocoa bean scientists, sensory experts and chocolatiers to packaging designers and consumer specialists, with the artistic inspiration of a panel of independent chocolatiers such as Pierre Marcolini, Tristan Carbonatto and Roger von Rotz. This spirit of open innovation is further illustrated by the Centre's partnership with prestigious external design institutions such as the California Art Center and the ECAL University of Art and Design in Lausanne.

The investment of CHF 25 million underlines the strategic importance Nestlé attributes to its chocolate business, especially in the premium and luxury segment. In 2008 the chocolate business worldwide reached sales of CHF 9.8 billion, with an organic growth of 7.6%. While global brands such as Kit Kat® reached sales of over CHF 1 billion, 70% of Nestlé's chocolate business comes from local brands. In the premium and luxury segment, which grows above the category average, Nestlé is the leader in dark chocolate and is well known for premium brands such as Nestlé Noir, Perugina, Cailler and Nespresso luxury chocolate.

In the Middle East, the confectionery market for Nestlé has been delivering double digit growth over the last few years, resulting in doubling the business since 2005. The chocolate business reached sales of over CHF 100 million in 2008, contributing to 12.5% of the market in terms of value; an increase of  +70 BP vs. 2007. The flagship brands within the category remain KIT KAT® and Mackintosh's Quality Street® which comprise 75% of the business.

The Chocolate Centre of Excellence is part of Nestlé's research and development network, which comprises 28 centres and employs around 5,000 people worldwide. Several of these centres contribute to the research in the field of chocolate and cocoa. Over the last 30 years Nestlé's research has led to a technology enabling the mass production of high-yielding, disease-resistant cocoa plants to rejuvenate existing plantations. The propagation of superior plants is currently underway in Ecuador, Venezuela, Indonesia and Côte d'Ivoire, where millions of plants will continue to be distributed in the coming years. In Ecuador and Venezuela, where the finest cocoa is sourced, Nestlé helps to protect and promote unique fine cocoa varieties.

Nestlé has been providing support to farmers for many years. This commitment to rural development is an expression of the principle of Creating Shared Value, which is part of Nestlé's business strategy. For a business to be successful in the long term, it must create value not only for its shareholders but also for society and communities at large, from farmers to employees to consumers.