The Coca-Cola Company’s Innovation Center in Belgium is the beating heart of creative inventions, where over 400 new products are made each year. The ‘testing factory’ is the laboratory where researchers are continually improving and creating new beverages – with access to a room that holds over 1600 different flavors!
Research and development at Coca-Cola in Anderlecht
Many of The Coca-Cola Company’s new beverages sold around the world are developed in the Research & Development (R&D) Center in Anderlecht, just outside the center of Brussels. A huge Coca-Cola bottle decorates the entrance of the building, but many diverse beverage brands are developed in this innovation center. By continually focusing on innovation and lowering the amount of sugar, the R&D Center shapes The Coca-Cola Company’s strategic vision of becoming a total beverage company.
“Just like in the kitchen, two ‘chefs’ in our lab can invent totally different beverages based on the same ingredients,” says Hilde Draye, Manager, Research Division on Sparkling Drinks. Getting the taste right is the essential part. That is why Coca-Cola does a lot of qualitative and quantitative research; some tests involve up to 500 testers.
The R&D Center opened about seven years ago and has since become The Coca-Cola Company’s second largest innovation center. The size of the complex has quadrupled since its opening, and recently €1.9 million was invested in a pilot line for new products.
The Center is centrally located in Europe, but it also develops products for the Middle East, Africa and part of South Asia. Together, this represents about two billion consumers, with very diverse tastes. Cultural diversity is an absolute must for the more than 70 experts and scientists who work in Anderlecht.
The innovation center also develops innovative designs and packaging, like the latest Fanta “spiral bottle” which was invented in Belgium and exported to the United States, and small-size packaging aimed at helping consumers reduce their sugar intake. Consumers are at the heart of The Coca-Cola Company’s Total Beverage Company strategy, as they aim to develop beverages for every drinking moment throughout the day.