Implementing Innovation in Chocolate – Production, Manufacturing, and Packaging


At yet2, we work on a variety of technology scouting projects, from anti-corrosive coatings for automobile applications, to researching the future of laundry in space amongst other topics. One of my favorite topics is innovation in food and beverages, particularly chocolate. This is a timely subject, since many of us are purchasing this delicious commodity for our friends, family, or significant others (or ourselves) for Valentine’s Day.

If you think about the sourcing, manufacturing, transportation, packaging, and distribution of chocolate, it is an intricate process to churn out this popular treat. yet2 has extensive experience working with food and beverage companies, including those innovating in chocolate. For example, we worked with one food and beverage company to optimize the production of chocolate. We analyzed their entire process from farm to table and the identified ways external innovation could be used to improve the process of producing chocolate.

Another area of innovation in chocolate is with cocoa itself. Cocoa, a key ingredient in chocolate, faces many complex challenges that could potentially lead to shortages in the future if not corrected. Chocolate companies can optimize the ingredient through two approaches:

1) optimizing sustainable practices around growing cocoa and improving production

or

2) minimizing waste.

From the first approach, many global companies that rely on agriculture commodities such as coffee or cocoa are getting more involved in the farming process, from implementing educational programs for farmers, to helping them optimize their agricultural practices. Here, the exploding area of ag-tech can help enhance production at the farm level, from IoT devices that can monitor soil conditions, to blockchain and machine learning solutions that can optimize shipping logistics, to AI which can predict things like war and weather patterns that could affect production rates.

The second approach – minimizing waste — is meaningful because a surprising amount of waste occurs during the processing and manufacturing of chocolate. Examples of this waste include foil wrappers getting trapped inside the chocolate pieces, or chocolate bars getting stuck on conveyor belts, or the overfilling of molds. yet2 helped one client analyze different areas where waste currently occurs in manufacturing process, then identified technology that can minimize that waste. An interesting approach is to utilize waste of by-products, such as Barry Callebaut’s approach to cocoa husk. They partnered with packaging supplier James Cropper, who turned the cocoa husk into bio-recyclable paper packaging that Barry Callebaut used to wrap their chocolates in. Not only did Barry Callebaut remove waste products without a burning process, which is environmentally costly, but they also turned it into another product.

There are so many points in the process where waste is made – and opportunities where external innovation can be used to minimize it. February may be the month of love, but my love for chocolate – specifically innovating in chocolate – is a year-round endeavor. If you’d like to learn more about yet2’s work in the food and beverage industry, and specifically our work with chocolate manufacturers, please feel free to contact me at hat@yet2.com.

 

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