Cutting confectionery costs

by Jeff Gelski
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Rising prices for cocoa and sugar have confectionery and chocolate makers seeking ways to keep costs down. Besides finding less-expensive options for sweeteners, the manufacturers also may want to consider using cost-effective alternatives for hydrocolloids, including gums and gelatin, and reducing processing times.

The inflation rate in 2010 for sugar and sweets is projected to be up 3.5% to 4.5% from 2009, which compares with 2.5% to 3.5% for the overall food price inflation rate, according to the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Cocoa powder, hovering around $2 a lb, and beet and cane sugar, above 50c a lb, far above historical averages, are two reasons for the projected price increase for sugar and sweets.

TIC Gums, White Marsh, Md., recently introduced a system aimed at confectioners seeking to reduce costs. TicaPan Quick Crunch, a system for sugar and sugar alcohol syrups used in confectionery and hard panning, serves as an alternative to acacia gum, also known as gum Arabic. The TicaPan system dries up to 20% faster, said Maureen L. Akins, applications manager and TicaPan project manager.

“In addition to cost and production time savings, TicaPan Quick Crunch is an advantageous alternative to gum Arabic because it provides harder and crunchier shells,” Ms. Akins said.

The price of acacia gum is known to fluctuate, especially since it is sourced from Africa and not a domestic product, said Joe Eisley, food technologist for National Starch Food Innovation, Bridgewater, N.J. His company promotes its Crystal Tex 627M tapioca dextrin as an alternative to acacia gum.

“Crystal Tex 627M provides low viscosity at high solids and excellent solution stability,” Mr. Eisley said. “It can be used to form thin, transparent, non-sticky, easily-dried glossy films that possess good elasticity and resist cracking and chipping. This combination of properties allows Crystal Tex 627M to be a cost-effective 1:1 replacement for gum Arabic in pan coating operations.”

National Starch Food Innovation offers another cost-effective replacement in Perfectagel MPT, a modified potato starch that has been shown to produce gelatin-free or reduced-gelatin gummy candies at a reduced cost, Mr. Eisley said. It is recommended to replace about 30% to 50% gelatin in reduced-gelatin gummies and 100% gelatin in gelatin-free products.

Grande Bravo whey proteins from Grande Custom Ingredients Group, Lomira, Wis., may offer viscosity and gelatin properties with various profiles that will benefit a variety of applications, including baking and confectionery.

Amylogum EST and Amylogum CLS, both modified potato starches from National Starch Food Innovation, have been shown to replace more expensive hydrocolloids in chewy candies. In soft-caramel-type chewy candies, National Starch’s N-Dulge CA1 tapioca maltodextrin and Crystal Tex series of tapioca dextrins potentially may be used to add bodying properties when partially replacing some of the skim milk powder in the formulation, Mr. Eisley said.

To save on processing costs in confectionery items, National Starch Food Innovation promotes high-amylose corn starches.

“Due to their much higher amylose content, high-amylose corn starches typically require higher cooking temperatures in super-atmospheric continuous cookers (around 340 degrees F), but they form much stronger and much more rapidly setting gels versus other conventional thin-boiling starches that are cooked at lower temperatures,” Mr. Eisley said. “Therefore, drying (stoving) times can be reduced from around 36 to 48 hours or more to around 24 hours or less.”

National Starch Food Innovations offers a web site dedicated to saving costs in a range of applications, not just confectionery items, at

Cocoa butter equivalents and cocoa powder extenders may have become more prominent with the rise of cocoa prices. For example, cocoa powder, 10% to 12% natural, was selling at $1.93@2.08 per lb at East coast points on Feb. 19, which compared with 82c per lb a year earlier.

AarhusKarlshamn offers the Illexao CBE brand of cocoa butter equivalents that may be used as a 1:1 substitution for cocoa butter to achieve cost savings in confectionery products while keeping the same quality and with no additional variable cost in production, said Jeffery B. Fine, director of new products and technology for AarhusKarlshamn USA, Inc., Newark, N.J. Illexao CBEs are handled and processed in a manner identical to cocoa butter and provide the same melt-down and flavor release as cocoa butter, he said.

The CBEs offer the four main benefits of cost reduction, compatibility with cocoa butter, the ability to use it with chocolate liquor instead of cocoa powder to give the product a real chocolate-eating experience, and the ability to use it to make harder or softer coatings as needed, Dr. Fine said. Illexao CBEs are free of trans fat and non-hydrogenated fats. They should be declared as palm oil and shea butter on ingredient labels.

Dr. Fine said CBEs such as Illexao CBE are excellent when there is no need to meet the standard of identity for chocolate. One example might be a strongly branded product where the item has an identity unto itself.

Cocoa extenders may have more opportunities for use in baking, such as in cake mixes, brownies and dark chocolate cookies, than in confectionery items, said Campbell Barnum, vice-president of marketing and market development for D.D. Williamson, Louisville, Ky.

D.D. Williamson offers powdered caramel color No. 643 as part of a solution to replace 50% of cocoa in a formulation.

“I would consider chocolate to be more of a flavor than a color,” Mr. Barnum said. “I do not believe there would be any issues of standard of identity for chocolate. A private label manufacturer would use caramel in order to deliver the reduced cost of their products.”

Sethness Caramel Color, Lincolnwood, Ill., offers its own caramel colors as cocoa replacers. Sethness RT175, a light, red tone powdered caramel color, has been used in blends to reduce cocoa use by as much as 40%. Sethness 858, a dark powdered caramel color, may be used in blends to reduce the need for expensive alkalized (Dutched) cocoa powder by about 30%.

DSM unveils web site focused on cost savings

DELFT, THE NETHERLANDS — DSM Food Specialties has launched a web site at that combines commercial and technical data and allows visitors to access information on the company’s portfolio of cost-savings solutions.
It focuses on the five market sectors of baking, brewing, dairy, savory and food protection. For example, visitors to the baking sector may learn how Panamore, an enzyme that delivers tolerance and loaf volume, may be used to reduce the use of DATEM.

In savory, using the company’s Gistex and Maxarome range has been shown to reduce the tomato powder content of sauces by 40% without compromising the taste and texture. Using the company’s Expresa and Maxarome range has been shown to replace cheese powder to save 7% on cheese sauce production. In dairy, using Maxicurd, a natural processing aid, increases curd yield through the use of heated milk in cheese making.

“We understand the challenges the industry is now facing,” said Alexander Wessels, manager director of DSM Food Specialties. “Customers want to achieve further cost efficiencies but still deliver the same high quality products their customers expect.

“Our new cost-savings web site is DSM’s response to this important issue. Initially focused on five sectors, this easy-to-navigate suite of information showcases the comprehensive range of solutions we offer to help maximize profitability. Whether customers are looking to reduce costs, improve efficiency or launch a new product, DSM can recommend the best ingredient to match their requirements.”

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