Kraft Foods is reaching out to industry and academic partners to find a packaging technology that will protect chocolate bars from melting.
Working through innovation service provider NineSigma, the US food giant is inviting proposals that will minimise melting when the temperature ranges from 24 to 40oC.
So far Kraft said existing packaging technology is both too expensive and excessively bulky. And yet there is significant market potential for a packaging innovation able to make chocolate resistant to heat.
Over summer months and in warmer climates the heat can turn chocolate into a sticky mess, both before purchase at the storage and distribution stage and again once the product has left the shelves.
Kraft is therefore on the lookout for new technologies, preferably compatible with existing packaging processes, that will offer sustained protection through periods of both heat and cold.
NineSigma is working on behalf of the company to make connections with academics and companies that may be working in other fields but may have technologies that could be relevant to the project.
Kraft said possible approaches may include, but are not limited to: Novel insulating materials, phase change materials, thin film approaches that can store energy and repurpose it, active packaging technologies that are triggered by temperature or light,
and novel cooling or heat absorbing technologies.
Kevin Stark, engagement manager at NineSigma, said the company has been working with Kraft for several years to find innovation partners. This work has, for example, resulted in a new closure system for Oreo biscuits that overcomes the problem of crumbs sticking to the adhesive.
Stark said companies are beginning to be more open about their research as they see the benefits of connecting with people that may work in a different field but have ideas and technologies that are adaptable.
The call for proposals, which opened on August 3, closes on September 10. Stark said 6-8 weeks is enough time for people to briefly introduce their work or technology for consideration.