Upfield aims to begin building Sunflower, it’s new innovation centre on campus, in September.
An impression of Sunflower. Friesland Campina on the left. © Upfield
Upfield produced plant-based margarine such as BlueBand, Flora and Becel. The company was created two years ago when Unilever sold its margarine department. In launching a modern development centre on campus, Upfield follows the example of the mother company, that settled on campus last year. The two companies will become neighbours.
Upfield will be located on what is currently the parking lot between Friesland Campina and Unilever. However, there is still a hurdle to be taken before construction can begin. The planned building is larger (by 20 per cent) and higher (by 4.5 metres) than the zoning plan permits. The Wageningen city council will decide on a procedure allowing this exception on Monday.
The new building will house an experience center, kitchen, laboratories, offices and a testing factory. The research centre focusses on developing new plant-based products. The experience center is meant for customers, (international) guests, relations, education and science. The building is made up of two units, the lower of which (situated at the back) will house the testing factory.
Upfield strives to make one hundred per cent natural and plant-based margarine. The company also wants to replace the plastic containers with sustainable plastic and recycled materials. Furthermore, the production process is to become more sustainable. All of this is done to elevate the product. The company feels the campus and Food valley are the best place to achieve this. Approximately 160 people will work in the new building.
The standard requirement for this number of employees is 130 parking spaces. A portion of these spaces (66) will be created semi-underground, beneath the building. There is room for a further 11 in front of the building, and the remaining 53 spots will be rented from WUR in the Unilever parking garage. This amounts to one-sixth of WUR’s parking spaces in that facility.
Peter Booman, director of Facilities & Services, says there is still ample space for WUR. ‘We bought 330 parking spaces from Unilever. Of this number, we are permitted to sub-let 100. A small portion (30 spots) is designated for Friesland Campina. We will retain more than enough to cover the 230 spaces needed for WUR.’
Upfield aims to start construction in September. The new building is expected to be in use by the fall of 2021.