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The Hershey Co. and the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology are joining forces to develop a sensory science and consumer research program at the school’s campus in downtown Harrisburg, Pa.
The initiative includes creating a research laboratory where the university will conduct consumer taste tests on a range of confectionery products, including Hershey’s chocolate. Consumer insights obtained from the lab’s research will guide product development efforts.
“We are creating a unique research program where students will learn applied science and technology that has meaningful, real-world applications,” said Eric Darr, Harrisburg University executive VP and provost. “This research will not only benefit the innovation work of one of the world’s best-known companies, it will give students the opportunity to gain practical experience that will prepare them for science and technology jobs.”
Hershey will give the university a $90,000 grant to equip a new sensory science and consumer research laboratory and cover other start-up costs during the program’s first two years. The school plans to complete the lab in February.
The sensory science and consumer research program is aligned with the university’s mission to create innovative and ambitious programs that meet the educational needs of youth as well as create economic opportunities in the region. Harrisburg University staff and students will conduct the consumer research working closely with Hershey research staff.
The program’s research results will be integrated with sensory testing conducted at Hershey’s technical center in Hershey, Pa., where professional sensory panels and employee panels provide feedback that guides ongoing new product development.
“Having broad consumer input improves our ability to innovate as we develop the best-tasting and most appealing chocolate and sugar confectionery products on the market,” said Dan Azzara, Hershey senior VP of global R&D. “This will be an exciting partnership that will keep us closely connected with consumers and influence future Hershey products as we develop innovative new forms to meet the needs of consumers.”
The Hershey Co. is the largest producer of quality chocolate in North America and a global leader in chocolate and sugar confectionery. With revenues of more than $5 billion, Hershey offers such iconic brands as Hershey’s, Reese’s, Hershey’s Kisses, Kit Kat, Twizzlers and Ice Breakers.