Food giant Kraft has announced it had invested £17 million into research and development, which will benefit its Bournville site in Birmingham.

The US firm said the site at Bournville had been selected as its Global Centre of Excellence for chocolate R&D, including new innovation laboratories to support the development of new products.

Kraft Foods said it had also expanded its Reading Science Centre, which tests and researches new products for the company’s markets around the world, and boosted R&D at its Banbury facility.

The investment has created almost 100 new jobs.

David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, said: “This significant investment from Kraft Foods is very welcome news and shows the company’s commitment to maintaining a strong research and development base in the UK.

“It will help drive long-term, sustainable growth as well as supporting hundreds of high tech jobs in both Birmingham and Reading.”

Jean Spence, executive vice president of research, development and quality at Kraft Foods said: “Our success is driven by continued investment in R&D, which we’ve shown supports growth across our global chocolate business.

"This is why I am so pleased to officially open the Kraft Foods Global Centre of Excellence for chocolate R&D in Bournville and the expanded Reading Science Centre.

“Two of our global and one of our regional centres of excellence are based here in the UK - making it a centre for world class R&D and a significant part of our global R&D network.

"We are committed to continued investment in R&D in the UK and for the whole business across the globe, making us an increasingly nimble and dynamic organisation.”