Kraft Foods is ploughing £17m into research and development in the UK, the company said as it officially opened the doors on its new centre of excellence at the historic Cadbury HQ in Bournville.

The US food giant said the investment, which includes an injection of resources at its Reading Science Centre, was a sign of its commitment to the UK and Irish business.

The Bournville investment includes new innovation labs, a new pilot plant facility and a ‘collaboration kitchen’, which Kraft said would develop new  products and improved technologies for the creation of new products from brands such as Cadbury Dairy Milk, Milka and Toblerone.

Kraft has also expanded its largest science centre outside of the US, to coincide with the Reading site’s 25th anniversary. The investment in high-tech resources includes the refurbishment or expansion of four labs dealing with research into microbiology, physical chemistry, DNA, protein and flavour.

“These openings are really exciting news for Kraft in the UK and Ireland, placing our world-class R&D operations and employees at the centre of a global network,” said UK boss Nick Bunker.