PPMA Show 2021 is a major event for businesses involved in different types of chocolate packaging. The Show will take place from 28-30 September at the NEC, Birmingham. 

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For companies supplying chocolate packaging machinery visit the PPMA Show exhibitor page and search through over 500+ machinery indexes

How big is the chocolate market in the UK?

The chocolate market in the UK alone is valued in the region of over £4billion, according to industry giant Mondelez. Trends in demand are away from popular, mass-produced chocolate towards artisan chocolate, especially ‘grown up’ darker chocolate. Online retail is also a growth area for chocolate. The UK is seeing growth in UK manufactured chocolate for domestic and export markets, which in turn is feeding interest in machinery for the chocolate packaging process.   

What are the challenges of the chocolate packaging process?

Chocolate comes in a multitude of different shapes and sizes; from bars and larger tablets to individual chocolates, neapolitans and coins. Products are cut or moulded into squares, rectangles, balls, eggs, stars and other eye-catching forms in the search for consumer appeal and brand differentiation. With such a variety of chocolate products in the market, chocolate wrapping machinery is constantly being developed to meet ever more challenging demands.   

In addition to the variety of products which chocolate wrapping machines are required to package, there are further challenges on hygiene, speed and accuracy. Chocolate also needs gentle handling in environments where the temperature is neither too high or too low, and where moisture levels are also controlled.  

What is the chocolate packaging process?

The chocolate packaging process begins with a feed of the chocolate product from hoppers, drums, trays, belts or feeder tubes.  

  • The primary packaging process wraps the product in material such as aluminium foil, polymer films and coated papers or a combination of two materials. Single stage packaging wraps chocolates in a single operation using one or two materials. Double stage packaging wraps in two consecutive operations. The wrapping can be twisted, folded, glued or laser-sealed.
  • Secondary packaging overwraps the product in materials such as cellophane, polypropylene films (including pouches), cardboard or paper or single item packaging or multipacks. 
  • Tertiary packaging procedures place the wrapped products in trays or cartons (including display cartons) which can be sealed in cellophane to protect the cartons from moisture or other damage.
  • The final stage of packaging makes the products ready for dispatch in shipping cartons or on pallets. 

What are the types of chocolate packaging machinery?

Chocolate packaging machinery comes as either stand-alone equipment or complete systems. The choice of system depends on speed and volume requirements, budget and type of product. Major producers prioritise efficiency and high output levels, while the growing artisan chocolate market concentrates on the final look of the packaging to support higher retail prices. 

Chocolate products can be packaged by hand, but as with other products, hand working is slow, labour intensive and less accurate than machine-driven packaging. However, because there are no machinery investment costs, hand wrapping remains an option for very low volume artisanal chocolates produced for small food fairs or limited local distribution.

The next step up is to low speed machines, usually using a roll of foil for primary packaging and a stack of paper or board for folding around the product. Depending on the types of product being handled, flexibility can be important to allow for different sizes and shapes. 

For high volume outputs, complete automatic or semi-automatic systems are required, including FFS (form, fill, seal) machinery. The elements in complete systems can comprise:

  • Orientation systems for efficient feeding 
  • Flow and foil wrapping
  • Vertical FFS machines for loose products in pouches and bags
  • Horizontal FFS machines for bars and tablets
  • PLC (programmable logic control)
  • Filling and weighing equipment
  • Buffering systems for feeding and loading 
  • Automatic loading systems
  • Wraparound tray and carton packing

Innovative chocolate packaging

Innovative packaging machinery is vital for forward-looking chocolate producers. Equipment manufacturers offer bespoke machinery developed for producers with an original approach to chocolate, and help to support the introduction of new products to the market. By testing new approaches, chocolate producers and machine suppliers can work together to develop specialist solutions for innovative products.

Machinery suppliers can also provide flexible equipment which gives chocolate companies options on the size and type or product they are packaging, as well as an increased choice of the types of wrapping materials they use, including sustainable papers, boards and films.

Find out more about chocolate packaging at PPMA Show 2021

To keep in touch with new developments in chocolate packaging, make a date in your diary for free entry to PPMA Show 2021 at the NEC, Birmingham, 28-30 September. Meet equipment manufacturers, network with industry peers and find inspiration for chocolate businesses of all sizes.