Cocoa processing market continues to make headway
As volumes of cocoa processing show signs of increasing, there has been a correspondingly strong market for equipment lines. Confectionery Production assesses the segment’s prospects for the remainder of 2019. Neill Barston reports
With the global confectionery market forecast be worth over $284 billion by 2025, expectations remain that cocoa will form a significant element of that core demand for chocolate products.
This has been reflected in cocoa processing results from around the world that have revealed relatively steady increases over the past year in terms of regional grinding results.
While the confectionery sector is rapidly examining the potential for reformulating product ranges in light of greater consumer demand for reduced-sugar range, the demand globally for premium chocolate ranges in particular remains high.
Underlining this, the European Cocoa Association (ECA) has reported that Europe has continued growth in cocoa bean usage – with grindings 1.6 per cent up in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 359,103 tonnes, up from 353,286 tonnes in the same period of 2017.
Similarly, the National Confectioner’s Association, representing America, Canada and Mexico, reported that grinds for the final quarter in 2018 amounted to 117,000 metric tons, equivalent to a 1.2% year-on-year increase.
There was also more positive news from the Cocoa Association of Asia, covering Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia which reportedly found a 3.7% increase in grinding levels during the third quarter of last year.
However, it is not simply the level of cocoa grinding taking place that is of significance, as manufacturers increasingly look to enhance the overall quality of confectionery products being produced.
One such example is US-based Guittard Chocolates, which together with The World Cocoa Foundation, USAID, Swisscontact, and the Millennium Challenge Account, the company is leading schemes in the world’s top cocoa producing countries, working with breeders, extension agents, cooperatives, and farmers on improving end products as part of its overall sustainability work.
As the company explains, its Flavour Labs are part of an effort designed to address the negative implications of what Gary Guittard terms the “incremental degradation” of cocoa flavour.
According to the company, this incremental degradation is the result of an industry-wide shift toward breeding cocoa for high yields and disease resistance as key features, with flavour profiling not being given sufficient consideration in Guittard’s opinion.
As regards equipment for the cocoa processing sector, there have been a number of strides forward within the segment, as has been previously highlighted by Confectionery Production.
Among the most prominent machinery businesses in the sector is Italy’s GSR Cocoa Machinery, which notes there continues to be an upturn within global cocoa markets.
A spokesperson for the company said: “There are important investments taking place within the sector all around the world. The countries that are experiencing great growth, both in terms of production and demand, are Asia and Africa. There, rapidly expanding economies are supporting dynamic and vibrant markets.
“GSR Cocoa Machinery, specialising in the production of pressing lines for the cocoa and oil-based seeds market, is benefitting from this momentum. After a successful 2018 marked by great achievements and important new products launched, 2019 starts with a portfolio full of orders until 2021.”
The company added that it was experiencing particularly high demand for complete pressing lines is very high, with projects ranging from small production, such as the 1-pot presses, up to the company’s largest presses operating with ’20-pot’ production.
According to the business, one of the keys areas of its success has been a continued focus on high performance of its presses, which are designed to produce minimal cocoa butter residue. As the company adds, it has also focused significantly on increasing the speed of pressing cycles in order to deliver increased production volumes demanded by customers.
Its presses have also been developed with a strong attention on sustainable performance, designed to optimise space and operate with low energy consumption.
The company adds: “With a clear, prompt and precise offer, we customise each product according to the needs of each customer. Our reliability, based on transparency and the direct relationship that we establish with each customer, leads us today to collaborate with large companies in the sector.”
For its part, another business in the sector which is enjoying notably strong performance is the UK’s MacIntyre Chocolate Systems, based in Scotland.
The company successfully offered a debut for its New Generation Refiner/Conche range at ProSweets in Cologne this January, which the business said had generated considerable interest.
As its teams explain, its latest equipment line offers more flexible and enhanced control of the refining process, together with improved design and easier maintenance.
With processing capacities from 500Kg up to 5,000 Kg, the New Generation range has been developed for both small and large batch production of a variety of products used in the confectionery, savoury and bakery industry.
The MacIntyre Refiner/Conche range is the leading and simplest method of mixing and refining fat based masses, in addition to producing smooth refined and conched chocolate with particle size as low as 15 microns. In addition, the equipment line will reportedly grind nuts into paste and also cocoa nibs into liquid chocolate for bars in addition to producing ice cream coatings, chocolate spreads, yoghurt coatings, and sweet and savoury cremes.
In addition, the system’s PLC software includes multi-step programming. A product specific set of process parameters or ‘recipes’ can be stored in the PLC allowing the correct set of process parameters for a given product to be selected with a single touch of the control panel screen.