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Hershey seeks innovation partner to ship chocolate in hot weather

By Hal Conick+

Last updated on 20-Jan-2016 at 13:05 GMT2016-01-20T13:05:08Z

Hershey seeks method to keep chocolate cool during shipping without gel packs. Photo: iStock - IakovKalinin
Hershey seeks method to keep chocolate cool during shipping without gel packs. Photo: iStock - IakovKalinin

Hershey has launched a contest calling for companies to help it develop a lightweight, affordable shipping system that will keep chocolate cool even in the warmest months.

The US chocolate giant is hosting an innovation competition in collaboration with NineSigma, an open innovation company that helps companies solve technological issues.

Hershey previously filed a patent for a chocolate product that can survive hot climates. This product, while unrelated to the current shipping innovation it seeks, speaks to the company’s targeting of emerging markets, such as South America and the Middle East.

Finding innovation through a third party

Herhsey’s contest is looking to find a new system that will allow chocolate to be shipped without gel packs . The company says its “ultimate goal” is to create an inexpensive system to use year-round as standard packaging for chocolate shipments.

The winner of the contest will receive $25,000 in development funds and an opportunity to collaborate with Hershey on future projects.

Submissions are due online at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on February 15. Up to five groups will be selected and each will receive $10,000 to develop and provide prototypes to Hershey. The winner will be announced in April 2016.

Dr. Eloise Young, senior program manager with NineSigma, told ConfectioneryNews, innovation contests have become extremely popular way to reach out to the innovation community.

“From a NineSigma standpoint, we saw a 50% increase in prize-based innovation challenges from 2014 to 2015 alone,” she said. ”Topics ranged from automated baggage handling to new helium applications, waste heat recovery to the Hershey Cool Ship Technologies contest to find a lightweight, affordable shipping system that will keep chocolate close to the temperature at which it was packed.”

This is the first contest NineSigma has administered in the confectionery industry, Young said. A standard contest will receive anywhere from 25 to 150 submissions from across the world, she said.

When asked about submissions thus far, Young said she could not comment on anything that has come through, as all evaluations are being undertaken by an internal team at Hershey.

Why Hershey is using a contest

Hershey’s manager of packaging innovation research and development Eric Zampedri said it is “critical” to have these cool shipping technologies in place to give consumers the best experience all year long.

“We decided a great way to solve this challenge was to take it to the same people who love chocolate through a crowdsourcing competition that will help us discover innovative technology ideas,” he said. 

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