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.