Bittersweet Shipping Complications

Since none of the world’s biggest producers of chocolate actually grow cacao beans, the industry relies significantly on international trade. The growing role of ecommerce in the shipping process adds another layer of complexity: online chocolate sales rose 80% between 2010 and 2015, generating $341.7 million in revenue. While these ecommerce transactions only accounted for 1.9% of all chocolate sales in 2015, rising demand for door-to-door service has created hurdles for chocolate sellers.

Here’s the challenge: chocolate softens at 85 degrees, melts at 93 degrees, and typically won’t survive more than three days in transit. To ensure safe delivery, most orders are shipped out between Monday and Wednesday. Orders placed later in the week are held until the following Monday for quality assurance.

Even with the use of expensive foam coolers, dry ice, and gel packs, this shipping process can still be precarious. Given the high stakes, many luxury chocolate makers won’t make deliveries during the summer months or deliver to consistently warm locations at all.

Concocting a Solution

With an eye on ecommerce’s growing role in chocolate sales, Hershey’s is developing technology to ensure their product can be delivered to every corner of the globe. Just last year, they held a competition with a prize of $25,000 for whoever could design affordable packaging to keep chocolate cool for at least 48 hours straight without the need for cooling packs.

“We need to find a better solution,’” Eric Zampedri, Packaging Engineer for Hershey’s Research and Development team, told the Wall Street Journal. “If we can reduce the cost for us, we can reduce it for consumers, too.”

Finding innovative shipping solutions will be of the utmost priority for chocolate vendors as we approach the busy Valentine’s Day season. When the supply chain works, the payoff is nothing short of delectable.

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