Lindt cuts ribbon at new Western Sydney factory

Lindt & Sprungli opened its new purpose-built $60 million site at Sydney Business Park yesterday, covering 66,000 square metres and 25,000 square metres of factory and logistics space.

The Blacktown Sun reports that the ribbon-cutting was attended by premier Mike Baird – who is also the minister for Western Sydney – and Lindt Group CEO Ernst Tanner.

“I am delighted that the growth of our business in Australia has allowed us to not only expand our operations but to provide people in Sydney’s west with employment opportunities with Lindt,” the Sunreports Tanner as saying.

Work on the site began in December 2014. The company announced at the time it would move its office, warehousing and distribution from Sydney, Mascot and Eastern Creek there, reported The Rouse Hill Times.

The Marsden Park site’s factory outlet operation commenced in October last year.

Lindt has been in the Australian market for two decades. It was established in 1845 in Zurich.

Cadbury launches special edition Aussie flavours for Olympics

Cadbury has launched two new flavours, Dairy Milk Lamington and Dairy Milk Apple Crumble, to support the Australian team at the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The company will be inspiring Australians before the Games kicks off with the introduction of the new Cadbury Dairy Milk Lamington block – a truly iconic Australian flavour. Featuring raspberry jam, vanilla cake flavoured pieces and coconut, this new flavour will be available in Woolworths, the official supermarket partner of the Australian Olympic Team.

The company is also releasing a second special edition block, inspired by the humble apple crumble. Made with baked oatmeal crumble and apple jelly pieces, this limited edition block mirrors our national colours of green and gold. It will be available from Coles.

The company has also launched a competition which will send four Australians (and their friends) off to Rio as Cadbury ‘Joy Ambassadors’.

“The Australian Olympic Team will create many joyful moments for Australian fans and we are delighted to have Cadbury bringing joy ambassadors to Rio to share in these moments. We are excited to see special edition products, and know that they will be enjoyed by all Australians while they cheer on the Team,” said Fiona de Jong, Secretary General of the Australian Olympic Committee.

Both blocks will be available from July.

Nestle tops Forbes food & beverage power list

Nestle is the world’s most powerful public food and beverage company followed by Anheuser-Busch InBev and Coca-Cola, according to Forbes.

The annual list, Forbes Global 2000 ranks companies according to a combination of revenue, profit, assets and market value. It placed Nestle at as the world’s 33rd most powerful public company overall. Anheuser-Busch InBev came in at 56 and Coca-Cola ranked 83.

Nestle reported profit of US$9.4 billion and revenue in the twelve months to April 22. While chocolate is the company’s best known product, its frozen food and coffee productrs also contributed significantly to the result.

Overall, Forbes Global 2000 named Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) in the number 1 position. The 2nd and 3rd spots went to two other Chinese banks – China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China.

 

Nestlé to develop iconic Italian chocolate brand internationally

Nestlé has announced a significant investment in Baci Perugina to further strengthen this iconic Italian chocolate brand on the world stage.

The company will extend and modernise its factory in San Sisto commune and establish a new business unit to drive global growth for its Italian chocolate business. This includes investing in marketing to grow Baci Perugina sales abroad.

Baci Perugina is already established as an historical brand in Italy. Now the company is looking to further its presence in its home country and also to make it into a symbol of ‘Made in Italy’ around the world.

The move will start with the set-up of the new Confectionery International Business Unit, which the Group has entrusted to Valeria Norreri, one of the key managers responsible for international expansion of S. Pellegrino brand (1.3 billion bottles sold in 145 countries).

Her work greatly contributed to transforming a mineral water into a product now recognized all around the world as a synonym of Italian excellence in the food and beverage market.

"I enthusiastically accepted this nomination; for me it is a new, exciting challenge" said Valeria Norreri, Nestlé Italy Confectionery IBU Manager.

"Baci Perugina has an exceptional legacy of tradition. Sales results of several countries confirm that the product has the potential to win in foreign markets. Now we have the opportunity to develop its value in international markets, relying on the Italian talent that combines the quality of know-how with passion and lifestyle. It’s more than just chocolate: we will tell the pleasure of surrounding with small things, gestures of love, and Italian-style flirting to create unforgettable moments made in Baci Perugina".

Already today, 40% of the volume produced at San Sisto goes to foreign markets, with Nestlé chocolate bars for all Europe. The modernization plan will increase the factory competitiveness, in order to sustain the business expansion plan.

Cocoa Life Sustainability Program reports Strong Progress

Mondelēz International has published the first progress report on its Cocoa Life sustainability program, which highlights the wide-ranging impact and efforts to date across its six cocoa-growing origins. 

Since its inception in 2012 to the end of 2015, Cocoa Life reached over 76,700 farmers in over 795 communities, establishing a strong foundation and framework for the program.

Initial results show Cocoa Life farmers' incomes tripled since 2009, which is 49 percent more than control communities measured. Likewise, cocoa yield increased 37 percent more than the control communities.

The report also includes data from a needs assessment of the five regions where Cocoa Life is in place in Côte d’Ivoire and an Indonesia baseline assessment, which identifies key areas that will be targeted and measured for improvement. 

According to Cocoa Life Program Director Cathy Pieters, Cocoa Life integrates the work of stakeholders to achieve common goals in ways that can assist Cocoa Life farming communities around the world.

"This progress report brings together the voices of people in cocoa communities across all our origins and demonstrates how the program is working together with local governments, our suppliers and partners to build lasting change on the ground," Pieters said. 

As the world’s largest chocolate company and buyer of cocoa, Mondelēz International is committed to ensuring a sustainable cocoa supply chain. Today, 21 percent of the company’s cocoa is sustainably sourced and brands such as Côte d'Or and Marabou are now displaying the Cocoa Life logo. Cocoa Life is a long-term $400 million investment to empower 200,000 cocoa farmers and reach over one million community members by 2022. 

Cocoa Life is a part of Mondelēz International's Call For Well-being, a call to action focused on four areas that are critical to the well-being of the world and where the company can make the greatest impact: Sustainability, Well-being, Communities, and Safety.

Snickers recalled as plastics found in chocolate bars

Mars, one of the world's biggest food companies, has recalled chocolate bars and other products in 55 countries after a piece of plastic was found in a Snickers bar in Germany, according to a Reuters report.

All of the recalled products, which include Mars, Snickers and Milky Way bars, were manufactured at a Dutch factory in Veghel, a Mars spokeswoman said on Tuesday. They were sold in European countries including Germany, France and Britain, and in certain countries in Asia.

"We cannot be sure that this plastic was only in that particular Snickers," a spokeswoman from Mars Netherlands said. "We do not want any products on the market that may not meet our quality requirements, so we decided to take them all back."

It was not immediately clear how much the complex recall would cost the company, which is unlisted and therefore does not disclose detailed financial information. The spokeswoman declined to comment on financial implications of the recall, which is the first to affect the factory.

Mars Netherlands said it was working closely with the Dutch food safety authority on the matter, according to a statement.

The recall affected all Mars and Snickers products, Milky Way Minis and Miniatures as well as certain kinds of Celebrations confectionery boxes with best-before dates ranging from June 19, 2016 to Jan. 8, 2017. Those dates may not be the same in other countries, the spokeswoman said.

Nestle scores Didier Drogba deal to improve Education

Nestle have announced their intention to build a new state-run primary school for the Didier Drogba Foundation in Drogba's home region of Gagnoa. 

Didier Drogba started the foundation that bears his name to help vulnerable Ivorians in the area of education, and it has now partnered with Nestle to further these goals, which the company supports.

The partnership marks the announcement that KitKat is now the world's first global confectionery brand sourced from 100 per cent sustainable cocoa, supplied under the Nestle Cocoa Plan.

The Plan enables farmers to run profitable farmers and enables the company to source good quality, sustainable cocoa for its products. Crucially, it also improves social conditions in farming communities.

Nick Weatherill, Executive Director of International Cocoa Initiative, an organisation that promotes child protection in cocoa communities, insists that well-built schools do help in the fight against child labor.

“If there’s no school in a community, then there’s no real alternative for kids. Since their parents are hardly going to let them sit at home doing nothing, the likelihood of them working on the farm is therefore higher. So building one is an essential part of the response.”

“If that school offers high quality education, and it’s free, then you rarely find a cocoa farmer who doesn’t want to send his child. That said, bricks and mortar alone isn’t enough.”

Weatherill warns that if farmers can’t afford to hire adult workers to replace their children, then they can be reluctant to send them to school. That’s why it’s also vital to address the problem of rural poverty.

McDonald’s introduces chocolate covered French fries to Japan

A new ‘harmonious tasting’ McChoco has been added to McDonald’s Japan’s special winter menu in an attempt to recover lost fortunes in Asia.

With the implementation of French fries smothered in chocolate sauce, the Japanese unit is hoping the McChoco will counteract a slew of bad news about its performance in the world’s third-biggest economy.

As Japanese sales have been hit by a series of food scandals and supply issues, McDonald’s has reported a 5.7 per cent rise in the US within the last three months of 2015, in addition to plans to open another 60 stores in Russia this year.

In late 2014, the firm was forced to restrict sales of fries after industrial action at US ports affected shipments of thousands of tonnes of the chain’s staple accompaniment to a burger to Japan.

According to a McDonald’s press release, the sweet-and-salty fries come with two types of chocolate sauce –milk and white.

“Customers will find McChoco Potatoes enjoyable for different occasions, as it also makes for a great dessert. The combination creates a wonderful salty and sweet harmonious taste,” the company said.

McDonald’s Japan, which operates almost 3,000 stores, reported a group net loss of ¥29 billion for the first nine months of 2015. It was expected to suffer a ¥38 billion ($318 million) net loss for the full year, with sales forecast to drop 10%. Last year, the firm said it would close about 130 stores in Japan and refurbish 2,000 others in the next four years.

The Nikkei business newspaper recently reported that the burger chain had reached out to investors about selling a part of its stake in its Japan business for 100 billion yen.

Arnott’s takes a bite out of possible Tim Tam super-stores

Whilst participating in a price war with supermarket giant Coles, Arnott’s has been seeking to promote its top Tim Tam product with a foray into building a standalone store.

With almost 3,000 biscuits made every minute, Arnott’s clearly have a loyal customer base as Australians eat approximately 670 million Tim Tams per year.

According to Tim Tam Marketing Manager Claire Kesby-Smith, despite the fact that there are twelve different varieties of Tim Tams, the original flavour is still the most popular.

“In the last few years, we’ve brought Tim Tam trees to Martin Place, a Tim Tam plane to remote Central QLD, a bus delivering Tim Tam packs to regional towns and collaboration with Adriano Zumbo, Australia’s foremost patissier, to supermarket shelves across the nation,” Kesby-Smith said.

“A standalone Tim Tam store sounds like something we should investigate! Perhaps a place with chocolate waterfalls and a never-ending pack of Tim Tam bikkies for sharing!”

There is good precedence for flagship stores becoming a major part of product marketing in the internet era. While fewer physical outlets are required close to people’s homes, one major destination store is often retained as a tangible reminder of the brand’s presence.

M&Ms may provide Tim Tams with a positive source of inspiration. M&M’s have flagship stores all over the world which act as both a sales outlet and a theme park. The intent is to make the product as unique as possible, where visiting the outlet is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to browse through all twelve varieties of Tim Tam flavours.

A Tim Tam store, as Kesby-Smith suggests could be a great source of community enjoyment where consumers can demonstrate the art of the Tim Tam Slam with one another as Tim Tam cake is readily served. 

Cadbury Crème Egg UK sales plummet after controversial recipe change

Sales of the Cadbury Crème Egg have dropped by more than $8 million since the company changed the recipe last year.

Cadbury parent company Mondelez International lost more than $14 million dollars in sales of Cadbury Eggs, dropping 7 per cent for filled eggs and 11 per cent for shelled eggs in 2015.

Mondelez has recently been focusing on building its healthy snack portfolio, as opposed to the Cadbury chocolate brand in the UK. In September, Chief Growth Officer Mark Clouse announced the company plans to focus 70 per cent of new product development efforts on healthy offerings in the next five years.

Mondelez Marketing manager Claire Low has said that despite the changes seen in the UK, the fundamentals of Cadbury Crème Egg remain exactly the same.

“The Easter ‘season’ changes every year depending on when Easter falls. It was two weeks shorter in 2015 than 2014 so it’s hard to compare,” Low said.

“This is why most of the big chocolate brands show a fall in revenue for 2015 against 2014. We are proud to be the nation’s favourite at Easter and we will continue to strengthen our position by investing in power brands and launching new seasonal products.”

Mars is taking on Cadbury with its own solid chocolate mini egg – the Galaxy Golden Egg, an extension of the Malteaser bunny range. 

While Ferrero  will bring a limited edition of its Kinder Joy egg, a plastic egg featuring a tab opening up into two halves – one made of creamy milk and cocoa cream and the other including a toy along with a spoon.

Cadbury Crème Egg first appeared in 1971 and now dominates the UK market with approximately 500 million being made each year with over a third for export.

Competition is driving ice cream premiumisation

The growth in popularity of premium ice-cream, combined with the growing number of health conscious consumers has contributed to a surge in the number of ice cream manufacturers keen to play in this market, including Unilever Australia and Norco Co-operative. 

Premium ice cream and gourmet gelato products continue to gain popularity, boosting industry growth as customers that seek these products are typically less sensitive to mild price fluctuations and are willing to pay more for quality ice-cream. IBISWorld said that it expects revenue from ice cream sales to grow at a compound annual rate of 13.6 per cent over the five years through 2015-16.

Norco Co-operative, a company wholly owned by Australian dairy farmers, produces two-litre tub ice cream products under the Coles private-label brand, which are targeted towards the premium ice-cream consumer. 

This range includes gourmet flavours such as Lamington Style, Caramel and Macadamia, Lemon Meringue and Pavlova Passion.  The release of these flavours has come in response to increasing competition from niche ice-creameries such as Movenpick and Gelatissimo, which offer their own premium take-home tub products in a range of innovative and gourmet flavours. 

Norco has responded to consumer demand for premium take-home multi-pack ice creams by manufacturing products for the Coles Classics range, which bear strong resemblance to popular premium ice cream brands Heaven and Magnum. 

Norco has also catered for the growing health-conscious consumer segment by promoting its Light Prestige range, which includes ice-cream products with a lower fat content. The company’s contract arrangements with major supermarkets Coles, Woolworths and Aldi have ensured steady demand for its premium ice-cream products.

In an industry where revenue is expected to reach $AUD1.1 billion in 2015-16, privately owned Unilever Australia has also faced fierce competition. The company first ventured into ice-cream manufacturing after it acquired McNivens ice cream in 1959. The company also owns ice cream brand Streets, which has allowed it to capture a greater share of the market. Unilever Australia currently holds an estimated 27.6 per cent of industry revenue, primarily through strong marketing for the Streets brand, which has amassed a loyal consumer following for its Magnum, Cornetto, Paddle Pop and Golden Gaytime varieties.

Unilever has also pursued growth through premiumisation, altering its marketing strategy in line with shifts in consumer tastes towards premium products. 

As a result, the company’s ice cream revenue is expected to grow by 14.2 per cent over the five years through 2015-16. Unilever’s recent expansion of its premium brand, Magnum, offers new gourmet flavours and take-home tub options, which have proved successful with its loyal consumer base.

Whilst premium ice-cream products have experienced great success over the past five years, IBISWorld has forecast that industry revenue growth will slow to 1.7 per cent annualised over the five years through 2020-21. 

Despite expected growth in discretionary income levels, the growing number of health-conscious consumers may negatively influence consumer ice-cream purchases, as individuals seek healthier snack options and desserts with lower fat and sugar content.

 

Cadbury hooks up with Snapchat

Cadbury TimeOut is getting creative on Snapchat in a campaign to engage young consumers in the next installment of Mondelez and Carat’s Media Innovators program.

The campaign integrates popular social media platform Snapchat with a consumer promotion, asking consumers to ‘snap’ a TimeOut bar, awarding a prize of $10,000 to the most creative snap.
 
New York based street artists Yok & Sheryo are also providing creative inspiration via three pieces of street art visually dramatising the TimeOut moment, which will be featured on street posters alongside a blank canvas ready for passers-by to snap.
 
TimeOut has partnered with VICE’s in-house creative agency Virtue for the multi-channel campaign that utilises OOH posters, Youtube, VICE Discover, the VICE media network and other digital lead channels to create new found awareness for the much loved chocolate bar.
 
Dwayne Hutton (Brand Manager – Cadbury Bars) at Cadbury said: “The TimeOut chocolate bar is all about encouraging you to take time out and enjoy it!  This fits perfectly with the behaviours of using mobile devices and being active on social media.”
 
“It’s very exciting to be innovating with media and activating on Snapchat for the first time, seeing TimeOut on Snapchat might come as a surprise to some consumers, so we are very excited to see how creative they’ll get with their snaps.”

The campaign is part of the Media Innovators program, which Mondelez has run in partnership with Carat, and involved brand managers pitching their ideas to an expert panel in a bid to win a share in $1 million of advertising budget to turn their campaigns a reality.
 
This TimeOut, Snapchat and VICE activation follows a number of successful Media Innovators campaigns, including Picnic with Tinder and NOVA.
 

Its Tim Tams at 10 paces: Round 1 goes to Arnotts

According to a number of media reports, Coles has lost Round 1 in its Mexican standoff with Campbell Arnott's, with the supermarket giant accepting price rises on dozens of products after the biscuit maker held its much-loved Tims Tams hostage.

Campbell Arnott's warned Coles earlier this year that due to increased production costs, it planned to lift its prices by between two and 10 per cent on a range of common biscuit snacks, including Tim Tams, Scotch Fingers, and Monte Carlo biscuits.

In what could only be described as crumbling in the face of a more powerful brand, Coles had little choice but to accept Arnotts's demands.

A Coles spokesperson said: “Coles has made a commitment to bring down the cost of shopping for our customers, and we have been doing that every year for the past six years.”

“So when a major international manufacturer decides they will unilaterally force through a price hike without justification, we will resist that.”

This chocolate-encrusted standoff lasted for almost two weeks before Coles caved in and agreed to pay an increased price on 44 Arnott's biscuit lines.

However the bean counters at Arnotts didn’t have it all their own way as Coles has refused to pay more for 14 other products, which have since been removed from its shelves. 

This includes six varieties of Tim Tams, including a range of flavours designed by Adriano Zumbo as well as other well-known Arnott’s biscuit varieties.

“Our average family shopper spends around $150 per week on food and groceries, and they don’t have the spare cash laying around to give to Campbell’s-Arnotts every time they decide to put their prices up,” noted the spokesperson in an attempt to explain this move.

So while Arnott’s may have won this round, the fact remains that Coles has also used the power of its brand and shelf space to show the biscuit maker that it will not tolerate being held to ransom.

The deleted biscuit lines are:
 
Tim Tam Zumbo Coconut Cream 165 gram
Tim Tam Zumbo Choc Raspberry 165 gram
Tim Tam Zumbo Salted Caramel 171 gram
Chocolicious Tim Tam Multipack: Caramel 191 gram
Chocolicious Tim Tam Multipack: Dark 187 gram
Chocolicious Tim Tam Multipack: Original 187 gram
Twisted Faves Monte Carlo: Salted Caramel 250 gram
Twisted Faves Shortbread: Strawberry Cream 250 gram
Arnott's Chocolate Biscuits: Royal Dark 200 gram
Arnott's Cheeseboard

 

New healthy chocolate created with fruit juice

A sugar alternative made from the fruit juice of a small melon has helped one Australian manufacturer create a unique new range of chocolate.

Created by Australian health food company Healthy Warrior under The Chocolate Counter brand, the new low sugar, high fibre chocolate line launched in Coles this week with a gluten free recipe that has no added dairy, soy, and all natural ingredients – including no artificial sweeteners but retains a comparable taste and consistency to normal chocolate.

GKC Foods sales and marketing consultant Graeme Hamilton says with around one in ten Australians showing a level of gluten or dairy intolerance, market demand for healthier snacks is increasing.

“Those with allergies or specific dietary preferences are looking for wellness products that have similar properties to normal confectionery.

“We also know that food intolerances often go together in individuals so that someone who reacts to lactose may also have issues with gluten,” he says
Hamilton says many existing low sugar products on the market are made with sugar alcohols, which can exacerbate gastric problems for these groups.

“Our brief from Healthy Warrior was to create a great tasting range of chocolate that was also a good source of fibre and protein and no added sugar. At the same time we looked to substitute new ingredients, which haven’t been seen in chocolate before. This included adding things like chicory root which has significantly increased the fibre levels and a new innovation called monk fruit juice has been used to provide a natural, low calorie alternative to sugar,” said Hamilton.

After six months in development, GKC Foods selected monk fruit juice concentrate as a key component of the sweetener system. In addition to having reduced sugar and carbohydrate the product is also able to be manufactured on the same line as traditional chocolate – offering a comparable texture and viscosity during the production process.

“The monk fruit juice was particularly important as an ingredient as it meant the consistency of the finished product could be produced on the same lines as other chocolate products,”

“Already the initial customer feedback on the finished product has been extremely encouraging for the brand.” Hamilton said.

Monk fruit juice is a natural fruit juice made from a small Chinese melon called monk fruit. A natural low-calorie alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners, it can be used to reduce the sugar and calories in common foods and beverages.

The product also has applications in beverages – with New Zealand based global food multinational Hansells one of the first to use it in developing a 98 per cent sugar free fruit drink.

Cadbury unveils partnership with Australian Paralympic Team

Cadbury has announced they will become a Major Partner of the 2016 Paralympic Team. 

The partnership is designed to shine a spotlight on Paralympic sport and provide a platform for the Australian Paralympic Team's inspiring athletes to showcase their spirit and determination to Australians across the country. 

As part of the sponsorship, Cadbury will create content that will enable Australians to support the Paralympic athletes as they embark on their incredible journey to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. 

In February 2016, Cadbury will kick off an activation to celebrate the Australian Team's journey to the Paralympic Games, which will take place in September 2016. The activation is designed to ignite excitement building up to and during the Games. More details will be announced in the coming months. 

Lauren Fildes, Head of Strategic Partnerships and Events at Cadbury, said: “The Australian Paralympic Team is made up of a group of remarkably high-performing athletes who inspire and excite all Australians. We want to empower all athletes in their quest for success. Regardless of their abilities or disabilities, all of our athletes in Rio have the ability to 'Bring on the Joy' and we are immensely proud to support both teams and help free the joy that they will undoubtedly bring to the nation through their accomplishments." 

Lynne Anderson, Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Paralympic Committee, said: "We are thrilled that Cadbury has joined the Australian Paralympic family and we are grateful for the support as the Australian Paralympic Team looks ahead to Rio 2016. Tomorrow marks 300 days to go, and our athletes are training extremely hard to win gold for our country and we are excited to share each victory and each moment of joy that our team experiences alongside this outstanding new Major Partner and brand. 
  
To have a Major Partner like Cadbury on board that so many Australians connect with is an honour and yet another great step forward for the Paralympic movement. The journey to Rio will be such an exciting one, and we’re proud that Cadbury will be alongside us all the way." 

Nestlé recognised as ‘world leader’ in helping to tackle climate change

Nestlé has been acclaimed as a ‘world leader’ for its work to tackle climate change by sustainability ratings agency CDP, with the company one of only 64 out of over 2000 to claim the highest possible score in the prestigious annual ranking.

Nestlé heads CDP’s (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project’s) Climate A List with a 100 A score, for actions including the introduction of technologies to further optimise energy use to reduce emissions, including greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Nestlé is working with farmers to help them use water more efficiently, and has lent financial support to buy biogas digesters at dairy farms, to generate renewable energy and cut methane emissions. The company is also committed to preserving natural capital, and ensuring suppliers respect its ‘No Deforestation’ commitment.

Food waste is a major generator of GHG emissions, and Nestlé recently strengthened its commitment to reduce it, by announcing that it would achieve zero waste for disposal at its sites by 2020.

“Nestlé is committed to providing leadership on climate change, and we’re honoured to receive this accolade from CDP, which shows we’re on the right track,” said Magdi Batato, Executive Vice President and Head of Operations.

With the world’s water resources under threat from climate change, CDP recently commended Nestlé separately on the ‘excellent’ results of its water stewardship activities, which are also guided by public commitments.

Over the past decade, Nestlé said it has invested heavily in water-saving projects at factories, and a further CHF 62 million on community water projects with international agencies.

The CDP award comes after Nestlé received an industry-leading score of 99 per cent in the ‘environmental dimension’ of the 2015 Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

The 700 chocolate bars that could help save tonnes of packaging

In a sealed room deep inside a Swiss laboratory, 700 bars of chocolate sit neatly side-by-side, wrapped in transparent packaging, attached to sensors, exposed to light for 24 hours a day.

It might sound like the indoor farm of a chocoholic’s fantasies, but this is not a magic recipe for cultivating ready-made confectionery.
What’s being propagated here is knowledge. Knowledge, that could ultimately help save tonnes of packaging every year.

Information gap
Here’s why: some products are more sensitive than others to elements such as moisture, oxygen and light.
Not enough is known about the extent to which these ‘degradation factors’, as scientists refer to them, affect sensitive products over the course of their designated shelf lives.
The lack of precise data available, as well as the methods for gathering it, can lead manufacturers to overestimate the level of protection a product’s packaging needs to provide.
The problem? Generally speaking, the higher the barrier a packaging material offers, the more complicated its structure and the potentially greater its environmental footprint.
The more accurately you can predict a product’s sensitivity over a specific period of time, the more easily you can identify optimal packaging materials that will still keep it fresh.
Critical point
“There’s almost no such thing as a perfect barrier when it comes to packaging,” says Robert Witik, the scientist leading the study at the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne.

People may think no oxygen gets through plastic, for example, but different types of plastic are actually permeable to different degrees.
"One of our goals here is to identify the critical point at which the amount of oxygen a product consumes begins to have an impact on its taste and quality."
In other words, how much oxygen does the chocolate bar need to react with before it goes off?

Test groups
Before they could begin their tests, Robert’s team had the painstaking task of wrapping each of the 700 individual chocolate bars in different packaging materials with varying properties.
“We’ve divided the bars into groups and packed them under different storage conditions,” he explains.
“Some are wrapped in packaging with a high oxygen barrier, while others are wrapped in packaging with a low oxygen barrier.
“We’ve also adjusted the level of oxygen inside the packaging, so some bars have more oxygen between chocolate and wrapper than others.”
Accelerated situation
What doesn’t vary in this experiment is the light, which the chocolate is exposed to continuously, and at the same intensity.
“In normal circumstances the product would never be subjected to this much brightness,” says Robert. “This is an accelerated situation.”
To discover exactly how much light the chocolate would see in reality, the team is conducting a parallel study that simulates its journey through the supply chain.
They’ve taken another set of bars, packed them in same conditions, and are moving them from periods of dark to light to dark again, mimicking their passage from warehouse, to shop, to kitchen cupboard.

Data driven
Back to the first lab, where over the next few months the scientists will be measuring the amount of oxygen the bars consume, using delicate sensors attached to chocolate from the different test groups.

Every 30 days, they send a handful of bars from each group for another type of test: this time with sensory experts, to see if there has been any loss of quality and taste.
In the long run, their findings should enable the company to calculate how much oxygen chocolate will consume when packed in a given material under specific conditions.
But the research is not only about chocolate. This is just the start. Robert and the team are already studying other products to establish a methodology that could be applied to Nestlé’s entire portfolio.
Their aim is to feed all the information they collect into a ‘shelf-life prediction tool’ they’re developing to help packaging engineers across the company to make more informed decisions about the packaging they select.
“Packaging materials can be very complex, with many layers performing different functions,” says Robert. “So choosing the right material is a very technical process.
“We want to help our engineers take a more data driven approach to what’s known as packaging ‘optimisation’ – better matching the performance of packaging with a product’s actual protection requirements.”

Challenging convention
Providing packaging engineers with an improved means of selecting material to ensure a product’s quality and safety over a particular shelf life is one aspect of this research.
Challenging conventional wisdom is another.
The scientists are also trying to encourage product managers to question the duration of the shelf life they’ve assigned to a particular product in the first place.

Why? Let’s say a product is given a shelf life of 24 months, but in reality people consume it within nine.
The chances are it’s being ‘over packed’ in an unnecessarily high level of protection.
Shortening its shelf life, and adjusting its associated packaging requirements, can be a simple but highly effective way of improving its environmental performance.

Public pledge
It’s a lesson Nestlé has learnt thanks to a recent pilot project in the Philippines.
Using information they already had on how moisture affects powdered beverages and coffee mixes, its researchers re-examined the shelf lives accorded to some of these products.
By tailoring the shelf lives, and so revising the packaging specifications that went with them, the company has managed to reduce the amount of packaging used by 1,500 tonnes annually.

All of this work contributes to Nestlé’s public commitment to improve the environmental performance of its packaging, with a pledge to avoid the use of at least 100,000 tonnes by 2017, while guaranteeing the safety and quality of its products.

Future proof
Although at first glance, wrapping up 700 chocolate bars and leaving them on a shelf for months may not appear to be contributing to this target, the long-term gain is clear.
The closer Nestlé can get to predicting exactly how certain products will react to different conditions, the less packaging those products will require.
So while scientists may not have a formula for growing your own confectionery, they might have found a way to ensure some of your favourite products are more sustainable in future.
It’s hard to imagine even the most dedicated of chocolate lovers being disappointed by that.

The Great Aussie Waffle Log

Polly Waffle making it back onto Australian shelves but under the name , “The Great Aussie Waffle Log"

The chocolate bar was pulled of shelves in 2009, after Nestle said declining sales meant it was no longer viable.

Dingley Chocolate makers Chocolate works have spent the last nine months perfecting their recipe for the Aussie favourite with the Polly Waffle set to be back on the market by the end of the month.

Social media played a huge part in the re-birth of the Polly Waffle with several Facebook pages made in dedication to the classic chocolate bar.

The Polly Waffle will be available from Chocolate Works online stores initially but Chocolate Works is hopping to supply to smaller chocolate shops in the future.

Cadbury announces Olympics ambassador sponsorship

Confectionery brand Cadbury has named Australian Olympic champions Sally Pearson and Anna Meares as ambassadors in the lead-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The chocolate-maker announced the champion hurdler and track cyclist as ambassadors yesterday as part of its “bring the joy” campaign.

Lauren Fildes, chief of strategic partnerships and events at Mondelēz International (Cadbury’s parent company), said that the sponsorship was a way of expressing the brand’s identity through to the Olympics.

“Sponsorships, really are also there to be relevant at a time a major event is on,” she said.

“And obviously there’s not a better event that happens every four years where the world comes together and celebrates athletes at such a high level.”

Up & Go now gluten-free with 4.5 Stars

Sanitarium’s new Gluten Free Up&Go is now available and offers consumers looking to avoid or reduce their gluten intake an expedient breakfast option, while still containing the protein and energy of two Gluten Free Weet-Bix and milk. 

It is also 98.5 per cent fat free, high in fibre and provides half of an adult’s daily calcium requirements.

Jaemes Tipple, Up&Go Brand Manager – Sanitarium, said the company developed the product in response to consumer feedback from the growing population who avoid gluten, and may not always have time for a sit down breakfast.

“We know that approximately 1 in 70 Aussies have Coeliac disease and many others are eliminating or limiting gluten in their diet, so we’ve developed Gluten Free Up&Go to provide a convenient, great-tasting, gluten-free liquid breakfast choice, in addition to the market-leading regular Up&Go.”

“Sanitarium is committed to the health and wellbeing of Australians, and providing nutritious products they love,” he said.

Michelle Reid, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist at Sanitarium, said the new Gluten Free Up&Go has a 4.5 Health Star Rating, under the new Government-led initiative which rates foods from 1⁄2 star to 5 stars, based on their nutritional credentials.

“When you don’t have time for a sit down breakfast and you are needing to avoid gluten, Gluten Free Up&Go is the ideal option for on the run. Gluten Free Up&Go earned 4.5 out of a possible 5 stars due to its protein content and being low in saturated fat and sodium.”

“Gluten Free Up&Go also contains 10 essential vitamins and minerals, making it an excellent choice to help start the day right,” she said.

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