- The Nestle Research Center is performing experiments on chocolate, and eventually other products, to develop a "shelf life prediction tool" that could help packaging engineers make the best decisions for a particular product.
- Products react in different ways based on exposure to various degradation factors, such as oxygen, heat, and light, so different packaging is needed to account for the varying levels of these factors that a product might typically experience.
- Nestle's chocolate experiments involve 700 bars wrapped in different packaging with different levels of oxygen in the packaging, as well as other variables, all exposed to consistent, strong light to test how the bars might react under different packaging conditions.
"Packaging materials can be very complex, with many layers performing different functions," said Robert Witik, the head scientist of the study at the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne. "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," Witik continued.
In addition to enabling packaging engineers to make better choices for their products, Nestle also hopes to challenge convention and encourage product managers to question and rethink the shelf life they've determined for a particular product. By making adjustments or starting from the beginning with shelf life calculations and the processing and packaging processes meant to extend it, companies could potentially deliver a higher-quality product with a more precise "Best By" date to consumers.
When packaging is overcomplicated, it could also be more damaging to the environment, a point many companies are working to avoid.