Nestle investigate health of Mediterranean diet

Posted by Josette Dunn on 12th April 2010

Roberto Reniero, Head of Casa Buitoni, tells us about the R&D centre and how Nestlé combines Italian and Mediterranean food traditions with contemporary know-how in nutrition and well-being.

What is the history of the Casa Buitoni villa?
Roberto Reniero: In 1988 Nestlé bought and completely restored this neo-classical villa, on the Tuscan hillsides of Sansepolcro that had been the home of the Buitoni family for many years. Casa Buitoni was opened in 1992 as the R&D and Communication Centre for the Buitoni brand. Since then it has been representing not only 180 years of tradition, but a continually evolving state-of-the-art centre, dedicated to fine Italian/Mediterranean cuisine. It concentrates on the nutritional and health giving aspects of Mediterranean goodness and the well-being this creates.

What is the main focus of R&D at Casa Buitoni?
RR: At Casa Buitoni a group of culinary experts work full time to develop new product ideas and concepts based on in-depth consumer research. In the Experimental Kitchen, the Casa Buitoni chefs draw on Italian culinary experience to create new ideas.

Traditional recipes become innovative products, based on fundamental nutritional qualities that provide a complete, balanced way of eating that fully reflect the principles of the Mediterranean diet.

Is this R&D knowledge used in other parts of the Nestlé business?
RR: Yes. Absolutely. We work not only on innovation projects for the Buitoni business worldwide but, being part of the Nestlé Global R&D Network we contribute to the strategy and share our knowledge.

What is a recent innovation from Casa Buitoni?
RR: Some years ago Buitoni Italy launched a number of products under the name of Pensierini. This is filled pasta in small funny shapes (stars, half-moon, wind-mill, etc.) for children.

Based on consumer insights it was decided to renovate the product by enhancing its nutritional properties so it not only fun but is also reassuring for mothers.

Thanks to the richness and the quality of the ingredients typical of the mediterranean diet, our chefs and technologists, together with our nutritionist, developed a new range of products that naturally contain Calcium or Vitamin E, two important micronutrients for the child’s diet. Vegetables were also added to the pasta to colour the dough: “Green Pensierini with Peas” and “Ham & Orange Pensierini with Ricotta Cheese, Carrots and Grana Padano”. The products were labelled: “Nutrirsi bene in allegria” (Good Nutrition with fun). A nice combination of consumer insight, ingredients and culinary knowledge and nutrition.