Tim McKnight, Andy Burnham and Chris Silcock

Cereal giant Kellogg’s recently opened a £500k food innovation centre at its Trafford Park factory in a bid to “improve its foods so they are better for people, the community and the planet”.

The centre – officially opened by Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham in September 2022 – comprises a packaging design lab, culinary kitchen, sensory hub and small-scale cereal factory.

It will be used as a base to help explore future food trends and ensure Kellogg’s is offering products that “meet people’s needs in regards to both taste and health benefits,” says Jason Billingham, senior director of R&D.

He points to Special K Crunchy Oat Granola, launched in June. It is high in oat grain fibre to support gut health and contains 30% less sugar than other granolas.

In the months ahead, experts at the centre will experiment with “diverse grains, such as quinoa, teff and millet” to create “exciting new food experiences”.

Kellogg’s has a history of pioneering innovation, Billingham claims. It was the first food company to hire a registered dietician and the first to print nutrition messages and product information on cereal boxes. The new centre will “build on the legacy of our heritage”, he says.

One of the first projects to come out of trials at the hub is the recent reduction of salt in Special K. Kellogg’s managed to reduce the salt content by an average of 19.8% across the range.

To achieve this, experts “analysed the sensory aspect of the Special K experience, specifically the way the tongue and taste buds detect the salt on the flake.

“By doing this we were able to redistribute the salt, so the taste buds detect it more easily. This enabled us to reduce the overall amount of salt without impacting the taste of the food.”

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