HARRISBURG, PA. — The Hershey Co. is teaming with the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology to develop a sensory science and consumer research program at the school’s campus in downtown Harrisburg. 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 research will be used in 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, executive vice-president and provost, Harrisburg University. “We want to thank Hershey for their support. 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.”

As part of the partnership, Hershey will give the university a grant of $90,000 to equip a new sensory science and consumer research laboratory and cover other start-up costs during the program’s first two years. The university said it plans to complete the laboratory in February.

The program’s research results will be integrated with sensory testing conducted at Hershey’s technical center in Hershey, Pa. Professional sensory panels and employee panels at the center will provide feedback that guides ongoing new product development.

“Having broad consumer input improves our ability to innovate,” said Dan Azzara, senior vice-president of global research and development at Hershey. “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.”