Danone has attempted to play down the impact the company’s moves to bring together its baby-food and medical-nutrition R&D functions could have on jobs.

The French food giant is set to build a new R&D centre in the Dutch city of Utrecht. The plans will see Danone group its R&D activities in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK at the new facility.

Such a move could cause concern over jobs in the Netherlands and Danone’s German site near Frankfurt and its UK facility in Liverpool.

However, a spokesperson for Danone in the Netherlands said: “We are not talking about job losses. We are just moving people from one location to the other.” The spokesperson said around 300 Dutch R&D staff would move to Utrecht, between 30 and 50 would head west from Germany and 20 to 30 would cross the Channel from the UK.

“Scientists are very international in scope already and they are used to sharing their international knowledge at conferences,” the spokesperson said. “That’s why we have a lot of faith that we will be able to move a big majority to the new site.”

The Utrecht site will focus on developing products for Danone’s brands including Optimel and Cow & Gate baby food and Nutricia medical-nutrition lines.