Colonel Sanders’ original document for KFC’s secret recipe is reportedly guarded in a safe placed inside a Mission Impossible-style motion-detecting vault. Jay Bush of Bush’s Baked Beans is the only one who knows its signature spice blend other than the family dog, Duke. The recipe for Coca-Cola is tucked inside an Atlanta bank vault accessible to only two top executives. These are billion-dollar secrets, and any major food industry player has something similar.
But now, a few food companies are trying something different. Instead of protecting trade secrets, they are handing the keys over to their competitors. Together, companies are investing in large research projects that would be difficult to fund on their own — then sharing the results with the public.
What would possess a multi-billion dollar company to spend money on private research only to turn around and give it away? In the case of chocolate, there’s a good reason to cooperate: Companies need to keep cacao plants alive to sell more product. It’s a shared goal. Cocoa plants make money for everyone, from the biggest multinational corporations to the 6.5 million farmers who grow them in countries in... Read more