A sweet idea: Hershey crowdsourcing for summer chocolate shipping concepts

Hershey is looking for innovative ideas so it can better ship chocolate in warm climates and the summer. Welcome to supply chain crowdsourcing style.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

The Hershey Co. is looking to crowdsource to get its chocolate to customers better in warm climates.

Wanted: A shipping system for The Hershey Co. that can keep chocolate from melting in the summer as it's being shipped to stores. Hershey is crowdsourcing ideas.

The Hershey Co. said that it is opening up a crowdsourcing contest to see if it can find a "lightweight, affordable cool shipping system that will keep chocolate close to the temperature at which it was packed for at least 48 hours."

According to Hershey, the innovation contest is being held through NineSigma. The goal for the company is to find new systems and materials that will allow chocolate to be shipped in warm weather without gel packs. These packs add to costs. Hershey added that it would like a system that's cheap enough to use year around.

A successful technology would:

  • Maintain packaged chocolate temperatures at or below 75°F for 48-72 hours
  • Be less than 3 years from commercialization
  • Operate without pre-freezing of components
  • Prevent chocolate from freezing
  • Contain materials approved for food contact
  • Contain chemical components that are generally regarded as safe (GRAS)
  • Be adaptable to different sized shipments
  • Have a price point that is compatible with consumer shipments of chocolate candy bars
  • Be comparable or less in size and weight with current cold shipping systems

Hershey also wants proposals supported by data.

Why now? Like most companies, Hershey has one eye on its digital future. The company, which typically sells through retailers, is likely to sell more of its candy direct. E-commerce adds a new logistics wrinkle since Hershey doesn't have cool shipping technology that's inexpensive.

Should a good crowdsourced idea emerge, the winner would get $25,000 in development funds and to work with Hershey to come up with more proposals. The contest deadline is Feb. 15. Phase 1 winners will be selected by April 14 with prototypes due July 14.

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