World Confectionery Conference focus: Baker Perkins delivers with latest starch-free depositing

pic: Tony Prange, who will be speaking for Baker Perkins at the World Confectionery Conference in Brussels, pictured with colleague Keith Graham at the firm's Uk HQ (pic by Neill Barston)

With the World Confectionery Conference fast approaching, British-based equipment business Baker Perkins has reported continued demand for machinery delivering healthier-option products including nutraceutical gummies, writes Neill Barston.

Earlier this year, the company unveiled its latest starch-free depositing line, capable of delivering a broad range of confectionery, though the health market that has been especially buoyant, according to the Peterborough firm. See our exclusive interview with the company ahead of its speaking appearance at the World Confectionery Conference on 9 September.

As Confectionery Production reported recently, the business is making notable strides in this rapidly emerging segment, after linking up with Rousselot to create a completely new segment of confectionery, the gummy cap.

This features active ingredients within a liquid or gel filling of gummies, which have been designed to offer a comparable taste with conventional sweets in the category, yet offering additional health properties.

As Baker Perkins notes, the new delivery form reflects the rise in popularity of gummies for medicinal purposes, particularly amongst children: compared with capsules, gummies are visually appealing with a pleasant taste. Consequently, taking a daily supplement in this format becomes a treat, not a chore and the ability to create a variety of 3D shapes with the option of sugar-free production extend marketing opportunities.

The gummy cap process maximises the utilisation of expensive active ingredients. An excess quantity is used when they are added to hot syrup to offset heat degradation, but this is avoided by carrying them in a liquid or gel. As an example, an 80mg Vitamin C gummy cap requires 30 per cent less content within the formulation than a traditional functional gummy.

As the Baker Perkins team explains during a tour of its UK headquarters in Peterborough, its teams are engaged in pressing ahead with the development of equipment solutions for such innovative products that are pushing new boundaries of technical excellence. According to Keith Graham, business development manager for the company, the pandemic has in fact offered a valuable period of reflection.

While he concedes they, like the rest of the industry, were faced with early setbacks last year amid the first lockdown, they soon bounced back within several months to adapt to the unprecedented climate.

He explains: “We have pivoted our hard candy technology into gummies, which has worked well. With such systems for gummies and jellies, they often require a longer setting time, so we are developing a new range of equipment that will enable us to provide the required results. “That has the happy accident of enabling us to bring starch free technology to the nutraceutical gummy sector,” notes the senior business manager.

As he reveals, the recent Covid-19 impacted conditions have brought other, perhaps unexpected benefits to the business, which was recently acquired by German-based minerals group, Schenck Process. Perhaps chief among them was the opportunity to place a renewed focus on its own internal production methods, as well as maintaining close ties with its customers across industries.

He adds: “We continued as well if not better than previously, and people haven’t been deterred from placing orders, which I attribute to the strength of our brand and relationships that we have with businesses, who have trusted us to deliver.

“We didn’t lose any manufacturing time due to Covid, though we did have to change the way we worked with social distancing and mask wearing, and are back to office working in hybrid form now,” explains Graham, whose colleague Tony Prange (pictured below) reveals the coronavirus pandemic has in fact seen the company gain extra production time, given that it has not been tied up in its convention international sales visits or commissioning trips.

“The pandemic has offered a chance to focus more on research and development work, as well as more remote customer trials,” enthuses Tony, who is set to speak at this year’s World Confectionery Conference in Brussels on 9 September (follow this link to register for the event), and serves as a senior applications engineer for the business, who appears upbeat about the prospects for the year ahead.

According to the team, there’s been varying degrees of demand for its range of systems across bakery, biscuits and confectionery markets that form its core strengths. As for the nutraceutical market, there’s also a sense that it’s far from a ‘flash in the pan’ fad from consumers, with a consistent stream of products coming to market, which subsequently leads to demand for an ever evolving array of machinery. “In the ‘better for you’ category there’s been a real explosion of growth,” notes Graham.

“There’s been a huge demand for gummies with vitamins and nutrients. I think it’s down to the fact people have been facing a pandemic, but I’d say that demand was there even before Covid.” As he adds, the functional and nutraceutical market may well have taken off in the US, but the word has very much spread further afield, with Europe also proving a notable market.

Speaking on its latest starch depositor which featured at ProSweets, he adds. “Whenever you go to an exhibition, the thing you want to have an answer to is ‘what’s new,’ so it is quite rare to be putting out something that is absolutely brand new and we believe will change the market. “Our starch free depositor is for medium output ranges, from 200-1000kg an hour, which will be based around moulds that can be placed into a conditioning room to achieve desired textures, before de-moulding and meeting the needs of products,” adds the business manager on its expanded machinery offering.

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