Mr Brack, Mr Temme, before we get to the actual subject, please explain to our readers what your companies do.
Winkler und Dünnebier is a mechanical engineering company, specializing in casting and dosing confectionery. Our plants shape chocolates, hard and soft caramels, fondants, jelly products and fruit gums. We are pretty much the only company in the world in this sector to manufacture large-scale production equipment for almost all types of confectionery.
Hänsel Processing has been manufacturing machines for the production of confectionery since 1911, confectionery which is normally cooked. Our export share is 95 percent and we have plants on every continent.
What can the new FFP manufacturing process do?
FFP technology sets a gelatine-containing mass in a short period of time, something that hasn’t been done before. The fruit gums cast in silicone molds can be removed after around 40 minutes, as opposed to the classic mogul technique, which sometimes takes several days. Additionally, the products can be manufactured without additives or contamination.
Using the mogul technique, the mass is poured into pre-stamped starch powder. These stamps allow you to make different shapes very easily. The main disadvantage of the mogul technique, however, is contamination. The molding starch removes moisture from the fruit mass, meaning water-soluble ingredients also enter the starch. If the fruit mass is enriched with additives, these substances can also be found in the next product. That means the production isn’t clean.
Another issue is the heat sensitivity of the additives. To ensure the additives are not damaged, they can only be added after the cooking process and need to be cooled again as quickly as possible. FFP was also developed to deal with this issue.
Which market trends does FFP address?
FFP primarily targets so-called fortified gums – products containing additives. These can be vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids or calcium, for example. Over-the-counter products, those that can be purchased without a prescription, like biotin and melatonin, are also relevant. These food supplements are available as fruit gums today in many parts of the world.
Our eating habits support the trend towards enriched fruit gums. We don’t have the time to cook for ourselves any more. Convenience food is fashionable. The nutrients, vitamins and minerals we need for a balanced diet have to be supplemented. In Europe, the focus will be on natural extracts initially. Ginger and honey are currently in vogue. So too are echinacea or olive leaf extract for lowering blood pressure, and ribwort plantain for respiratory illnesses and coughing are also frequently in demand. A lot is happening in this area. We need to be prepared for these products and be able to meet the technical requirements to manufacture them.
Are fortified gums also relevant for the pharmaceutical industry?
Many pharmaceutical companies are in the process of developing fruit gums containing over-the-counter drugs. However, it is not quite so straightforward because fruit gums are a product often eaten in mass and there is therefore a risk of excessive amounts of the supplements being ingested. In the USA, simple instructions on the packaging are sufficient. This would never be allowed in Europe. The plan here is to produce Madein- Packs, where the enriched fruit gums are filled directly into blister packaging and sealed, a process which is customary in the pharmaceutical field. We expect this to be approved for the market.
It sounds like there is enormous potential there.
There has been an increase in the volume of fruit gums on the market in the last two to three years. After all, every confectionary manufacturer is looking for new products to offer. Success in the fruit gum sector is based on innovation, diversity and cost awareness.
Why are fruit gums so attractive for manufacturers?
There is hardly any other product in the confectionery sector that is growing as strongly as fruit gums. Their high acceptance makes them the ideal platform for additives. The price for such products is attractive and the profit margin is high. It is therefore attractive for the well-known confectionery and pharmaceutical companies to establish a new production facility. In addition, there are new companies that are launching completely new products. With FFP, we have also reduced the barriers to entry for small-volume business, as the investment costs are lower compared to mogul plants. This makes the business more easily scalable.
Hänsel Processing has optimized the JellyStar® jelly cooking plant for Fast Forward.
How did the cooperation with GELITA come about?
GELITA and WDS already pursued the idea of starch-free confectionery production 20 years ago. At that time, products with additives were not an issue at all. It was all about clean, simple production, but the processes were not yet good enough. But we kept at it. When we were ready and realized a few years ago that we needed expertise in the area of cooking, we took Hänsel Processing on board. Since then we have been working intensively on the project and have made enormous progress.
We had already worked previously with GELITA on individual projects for our fruit gum production machines, after all, GELITA is the market leader in this area of gelatine.
Clean production: FFP makes it possible to pour fruit gums into reusable silicone molds instead of starch molds. The products can therefore be produced w The challenge with FFP: The required rapid gelling ithout contamination.
What form did the cooperation take?
We met several times a year, conducted trials and analyzed the results. GELITA took care of the formula and structural formation, Hänsel the cooking process, and WDS the molding. We have gradually optimized every step and created pilot installations which have enabled us to gain insights into large-scale processes. With this, we can present our customers with a complete concept.
The challenge with FFP: The required rapid gelling and high flexibility of textures cannot be achieved with standard formulations, gelatines and processes.
What do you appreciate about the cooperation with GELITA?
We have a very trusting relationship with GELITA and WDS, which is reflected in the close teamwork.
We have known each other for many years, which simplifies work and communication. Our cooperation is goal-oriented and the division of tasks is optimal.
To what extent do customers benefit from the cooperation?
Our concept is a world first. We think in broad terms, also because we were able to incorporate the experience of three different companies into the project. And we’ve put everything that is commonplace under the microscope. This approach gives us a head start over competitors who, while working on similar processes, do not elaborate them in many respects in as much detail as we do. We considered the formula, design, molding process, temperature resistance, cooking process, firmness, absence of sugar, and halal versions, and tested how the fruit gum reacts after three or six months. All these questions are complex and reflect exactly what a confectionery company basically queries.
With the combination of WDS, GELITA and Hänsel Processing, three companies have joined forces, each with a very high level of competence in its field and whose experience has flowed into the FFP technology. This enables us to offer our customers a complete line with the best of the three areas. Furthermore, WDS in Rengsdorf and Hänsel Processing in Hanover have each set up facilities with which we can conduct product development trials with customers.
Holger Brack demonstrates the FFP technology in the WDS Technikum in Rengsdorf, Germany. Product development trials can also be conducted at Hänsel Processing in Hanover, Germany.
GELITA, Hänsel and WDS have revolutionized fruit gum production. Your advantages at a glance:
Minimization of production costs
Reduction in production time
Simplified implementation of additives
Dr. Margarethe Plotkowiak
Tel. +49(0)6271 84-2552