July 2015 – In the second quarter of 2015 the cocoa-producing industry recorded a sales increase of nearly 8 per cent in Germany and just over 0.5 per cent in the whole of Europe compared with the same period last year. However, as before, sales figures are likely to drop between July and September, as chocolate cannot withstand high temperatures. For years now the industry has therefore been researching into ways of raising the melting point of this delicious delicacy, yet so far it has always meant compromising on taste. But the industry is now putting its hope in innovative packaging.
Heat-resistant, sustainable packaging
Heat-resistant packaging and shipping would be highly desirable for chocolate, not just to cope with heat waves in our part of the world, but also to satisfy demand in faraway countries, such as China and India. The packaging industry and also research institutions such as the Fraunhofer Institute have been focusing on the development of insulated packaging for confectionery for many years now. At the moment most chocolate is still wrapped in conventional aluminium foil, and for double-wrapped bars many manufacturers use paper, plastic or composite corrugated paperboard.
Ferrero, however, is now planning for a breakthrough with a more unusual material. Working together with the Scandinavian packaging manufacturer Stora Enso and the German research company PTS and thanks to EU funding, the world’s biggest chocolate manufacturer has developed a particularly sustainable form of chocolate packaging – made from hazelnut shells. Just over a quarter of the world’s hazelnut stocks – around 180 million kilos – is currently used for the production of that popular bread spread, Nutella. If everything goes according to plan for the Italian confectionery makers, they will soon be using the by-product of their production process – hazelnut shells – as a natural form of chocolate packaging. Allergy and hygiene tests have already been conducted successfully, and researchers are now looking at heat resistance. A similar challenge is being addressed by the Japanese high-tech company NEC which uses cashew nuts to produce particularly robust, heat-resistant and water-repellent organic plastics.
One of the world’s biggest confectionery manufacturers is the Argentinian company Arcor. To package their merchandise at a good speed and a high level of quality, Arcor has used machinery from Bosch Packaging Systems AG for many years now. The latest model has been designed to ensure optimum packaging for the company’s popular Traviata Crackers (24,000 metric tonnes per year). The high-speed tubular bag packaging machine has the capacity to process 212 stacks of crackers per minute. The hermetically sealed packaging is to ensure a good long shelf life for this confectionery product. Apart from Bosch, the German packaging machinery manufacturer Pactec Theegarten is another exporter that sells packaging machinery for chocolate and cake products to South America. Their export share is around 90 per cent in total.
Consumers today want to enjoy delicacies on the go; at the same time, they are looking for a more eco-friendly experience. Photo: Metsä Board