A widening range of coatings and fillings is keeping demand for bakery enrobing and injection technology high, driven by a growing consumer inclination towards trying new flavors and textures.
By Jonathan Thomas
Enrobing and injection products represent two important sectors of the global market for bakery equipment, together with items such as ovens, mixers, proofers and dough sheeters. In most instances, enrobing and injection equipment are used to add value to certain bakery products, in terms of taste, appearance, texture, etc. Many of the bakery products which undergo enrobing or injection procedures compete within the global snack foods market, where competition for shopper expenditure remains strong and suppliers are under constant pressure to satisfy the demands of a broad consumer audience.
Enrobing technology is widely used in the production of sweet biscuits, with chocolate-coated varieties one notable example. The enrobing process uses a waterfall-style stream of chocolate to provide a coating on products such as sweet biscuits, although it is also used for other foods, examples of which include peanuts, pretzels and popcorn. By using enrobing during the production process, manufacturers can develop more unique products to satisfy consumer demands in a relatively short amount of time – for example, many chocolate biscuits are now coated with either milk, dark or white chocolate.
Chocolate enrobing equipment for biscuits typically incorporates the following stages:
- Tempering – the chocolate is first tempered in the tempering units to ensure it is the correct temperature and is capable of coating different food products;
- Prebottoming – the biscuit is then placed onto a wire rack (or similar surface) which transports it through the enrobing line and ensures its bottom is coated in chocolate;
- Cooling – the biscuit moves towards the enrober and stops at a quick cooling system;
- Enrobing – the chocolate waterfall is passed through, thereby coating each biscuit while any excess chocolate falls through the wire and returns to the waterfall;
- Even coating – the wire rack is vibrated to ensure the biscuits are coated evenly;
- Detailing – the wire rack runs through the detailer to ensure it appears in the correct shape;
- Glossing – the biscuit travels into the cooling tunnel, where the chocolate is set by a special airflow system.
Injection technology is more widespread in sectors of the bakery industry such as muffins, cakes, doughnuts and pastries. For these types of bakery products, some of the more common fillings injected during the manufacturing process include jams, fruit purees, chocolate sauces, syrups, custard and aerated cream fillings. Injection usually takes place as part of an automated process, to enable large quantities to be produced for a more economical cost. Key attributes for injection equipment for bakery applications include reliability and accuracy.
Both the enrobing and injection equipment sectors are expected to witness increased levels of automation over the coming years, as well as the incorporation of newer technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT). This will assist operators in moving towards more predictive (rather than reactive) forms of maintenance, helping to minimize downtime and improve efficiency levels. Automation and more widespread deployment of technology are also viewed as key tools to help keep down energy and labor costs. The future is also likely to witness the arrival of more enrobing and injection equipment which can be better customized towards certain varieties of product.
Enrobed Bakery Products
Enrobed bakery products are especially evident within the global market for sweet and wafer biscuits. Although this market is mature, global sales are forecast to increase from around USD85bn to USD115bn by the end of the current decade, with annual growth averaging 5%. Much of this expansion is expected to be led by increased urbanization in potentially large markets such as China and India and the corresponding demand for packaged snack foods, as well as higher income levels and the greater prevalence of snacking amongst younger consumers in place of formal mealtimes. Some of Europe’s leading consumers of biscuits in per capita terms include Italy (10.8 kg), France (8.3 kg), the UK (8 kg), Germany (7.7 kg) and Belgium (7.2 kg).
During the pandemic, demand for sweet biscuits was boosted by lockdown measures and the corresponding increase in the number of in-home snacking occasions. More recently, sales of sweet biscuits have been aided by the perception of many chocolate-coated varieties as affordable treats or luxuries in what are generally recognized as stressful times. Recent data from Kantar indicates that 94% of biscuit eating occasions in the UK are primarily driven by enjoyment.
Additionally, sweet biscuits continue to represent a popular accompaniment to hot drinks such as tea and coffee and are one of the most favored types of portable snacks for many people. According to the State of Snacking report released by Mondelez International at the start of 2023 (which canvassed the opinions of 3,350 adults aged 18 and over), 65% of consumers claimed to snack on cookies or sweet biscuits once a week or more in 2022. This figure has increased from 60% three years earlier.
You can read the rest of this article in the September-October issue of European Baker & Biscuit, which you can access by clicking here.