Wacker develops novel depositing technology for chewing gum

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29 Jan 2018 --- Wacker has developed a new compound to deposit chewing gum which offers a pioneering creative freedom to produce the sugar-free confectionery in an unprecedented variety of shapes, something which the company tips to be a game-changer.

Chewing gum is confectionery made by an extrusion process and as a result, the shapes available on the market have not significantly changed in recent decades.


The colors, raw materials and other ingredients in chewing gum are always changing but their shapes, on the other hand, have been limited to sticks, candy-coated pellets and gumballs.


Click to EnlargeHowever, that could all be about to change with new depositing technology from Wacker.


CAPIVA C 03, a premix, will allow manufacturers to deposit chewing gum into a variety of different molds. A copolymer-resin containing a composition that opens up the door to entirely new shapes.


Insoluble in water, this premix can be completely melted, allowing it to be blended uniformly into a sugar compound. In other words, Wacker has produced a raw material that lets you cook chewing-gum-like candy and shape it however you want instead of going through elaborate mixing processes.


From shape limitations to unlimited creativity
While the composition and taste of chewing gum may be quite diverse, the shapes it can take have been limited up to now. The reason for this lies with the raw materials, which must be mixed while warm – whereas candies suitable for molding into any shape can be cooked. Chewing gum traditionally consists of a gum base, powdered sugar or polyols.


Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst at ISM, the trade fair for sweets and snacks in Cologne, Dr. Alessandro Capuani, business development manager in the gum department of Wacker Biosolutions, explains just how significant this innovation is.

 

Click to Enlarge
Dr. Alessandro Capuani, business development
manager in the gum department of Wacker Biosolutions

“We’re launching this new kind of technology to produce chewing gum in a different way. You can make many shapes which is very interesting because chewing gum can be sold based on the packaging and the taste of the product, but also you sell it based on the shape. This is something that is completely new, there has not been a product like this on the market,” he says.

“The chewing gum could look like a gummy bear or a fruit like a lemon or banana or whatever you would like to make.”


“The normal chewing gum process is a dry process but using depositing technology we are depositing the final mass of the product, which is liquid during this kind of process, and we have the possibility to form many shapes out of it, which was not possible before.”


Although the technology has only just been launched and there are currently no commercial products, the future looks very bright, says Capuani.


“This is the first development which is very promising and we still need to do some work in development. This is also very easy to clean which is also very useful for users.”


“You need a very high temperature, at least 115 degrees Celsius because being below this temperature would be quite difficult to make complex shapes. This is the only challenge.”


Speaking about the biggest opportunities, Capuani adds how producing chewing gum in a variety of different shapes could be a bit hit with children. And, for now at least, the focus on solely on sugar-free chewing gum.


“For us, it’s difficult to say what the final market could be because we’re not so close to the end-consumer, but I think this would be very interesting for children because they buy a lot of jellies because they have nice colors and shapes.”


“For the moment, we are only focusing on sugar-free and right now we are not able to deposit the chewing gum with a sugared solution. But we decided to make it sugar-free because this is the biggest market, although sugar will be available in the future.”


The first industrial-scale pilot plant
The process also works on an industrial scale, as demonstrated by a pilot project carried out by a team from Bosch Makat Candy Technology GmbH, a subsidiary of Bosch Packaging Technology near Cologne, Germany, that manufactures specialty equipment for the confectionery industry.


Click to Enlarge“Thanks to CAPIVA C 03, we had to spend very little on additional plant components. So producing a huge variety of shapes is no problem on our existing mogul line,” says Patrick Knoll of Bosch Makat Candy, who worked on process engineering issues with Dr. Capuani.


Bosch Confectionery Technology specializes in developing and constructing what is known as mogul lines for large-scale manufacturing of gummy bears, jelly candies, etc.


Through the introduction of heat, a continuous cooker upstream from these lines produces a homogeneous, crystal-free mixture that is then brought to the required molding temperature under vacuum, thus minimizing the water content of the mixture. Further ingredients such as colorings, flavorings or acid are then added.


Little investment required
The next step is where CAPIVA C 03 comes into play as it can be melted in a bulk melter and pumped into the hot sugar solution through special dosing and mixing equipment.


“Retooling the system in this way lets us make chewing gum in any shape we want on the same equipment we’d use for normal candy production,” Knoll explains.


Stirring produces a homogeneous mixture that is immediately ready for molding via what is known as the mogul process, which involves depositing the mixture into prepared starch molds.


“The advantages of using starch molds are that you can create any shape you can think of and you can change molds quickly,” Knoll points out. The mogul process is suitable for a wide range of confectionery products, such as jellies, gummy candies, marshmallow candies, soft candies and fondants – and now for chewing gum too.


Chewing gum made from CAPIVA C 03 can easily be deposited, shaped and dried in silicone molds as well.


“We can adjust and optimize the formulation to meet the customer’s technical specifications so that the production systems will run as smoothly as possible,” adds Dr. Capuani.


Working in the laboratory, Capuani collaborates with customers to work out the most suitable formulation for them. Changing the composition allows researchers to alter the rheology and viscosity of the mixture to create a depositable material that molds well and is easy to process, thus preventing undesirable phenomena such as a stringy consistency or entrapped air.


“CAPIVA C 03 allows us to offer formulations that don’t become stringy or that gum up the equipment – thus reducing the time spent on cleaning and the amount of material consumed,” he continues.


The history of chewing
The phenomenon is not new: humans have been chewing rubbery substances for thousands of years. Whereas northern Europeans chewed birch tar, the Romans preferred mastic, a resin obtained from the mastic tree. The Maya and Aztecs, on the other hand, consumed chicle, the latex of the sapodilla or naseberry tree. Chewing gum has continued to develop over the centuries, and now generally begins with a gum base that serves as a carrier for sugar, polyols or other sweeteners and flavorings.


New flavors have continued to pour in over the years, and the purpose of chewing gum has changed as well. No longer consumed just for enjoyment, chewing gum is now used as an oral-care product and as a means of delivering medications.


The colors, raw materials and other ingredients in chewing gum are always changing – their shapes, on the other hand, have been limited to sticks, candy-coated pellets and gumballs.


CAPIVA C 03, a premix from Wacker, is coming to the rescue and will allow manufacturers to deposit chewing gum into a variety of different molds.


Shape limitations
While the composition and taste of chewing gum may be quite diverse, the shapes it can take have been limited up to now. The reason for this lies with the raw materials, which must be mixed while warm – whereas candies suitable for molding into any shape can be cooked. Chewing gum traditionally consists of a gum base, powdered sugar or polyols.

 

Chewing-gum ingredients formulated with CAPIVA C 03 can be easily cleaned from equipment using hot water or common industrial detergents.


Other advantages of melting
As with other confectionery products, the ability of molded chewing gum to retain its shape depends on the precise formulation and the ingredients used. “We can vary the formulation and the process parameters to make the product harder or softer. But CAPIVA C 03 gives us greater versatility when it comes to the formulation,” says Dr. Wimmer. Another advantage is that the cooking process allows formulators to use a number of liquid ingredients that could not be used in the conventional process.


Wacker developers are convinced that CAPIVA C 03 will open up many new opportunities. “By offering new moldable chewing-gum products, we hope to encourage our customers to bring more variety to the candy aisle without having to neglect classic chewing gum,” Capuani explains.


By Gaynor Selby and Robin Wyers, Cologne

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