From chocolate to hard candies to gummies, lollipops, and everything in between, it’s a month to celebrate those sweet treats. According to the National Confectioners Association (NCA) June 1 marked the beginning of National Candy Month, “a month-long event that occurs each June to celebrate Americans’ favorite confectionery treats, their contributions to emotional well-being and the good times they bring to summer occasions.”
And what a reason to celebrate. According to the latest report from the NCA, in 2021, chocolate and candy sales were up 11% over 2020, and up 15.4% over 2019, with sales of chocolate and candy hitting an all-time high. The NCA notes that the U.S. confectionery industry generates more than $37 billion in retail sales each year and employs nearly 58,000 workers in more than 1,600 manufacturing facilities across all 50 states.
Despite these great numbers, the industry cannot slack off when it comes to food safety and quality – even as confectionery companies create new treats, especially with innovative candies and packaging. At the latest Sweets and Snack Expo, it was reported that plant-based ingredients are becoming more accepted, which means raw materials may have to be inspected before being put into the production line. Most raw foods and ingredients originate in a natural environment – a field, an orchard, a farm, etc. As the food is harvested, foreign objects such as stones or glass can end up co-mingled and transported into the processing plant.
There are food weighing and inspection technologies that can help reduce those risks, whether in the raw materials or in the production line. Industrial food metal detectors inspect food to detect unwanted metallic contamination and remove any contaminated packages from the process. Food X-ray inspection systems detect both metallic and non-metallic foreign object contaminants as well as providing product integrity data to help ensure quality. And checkweighing systems automatically weigh 100% of the food produced to ensure products meet required weights and help plants optimize production efficiency.
To help celebrate the sweet month, here are five previously published blog articles that explain the technologies used for food safety and quality programs at confectionery operations. Why not munch on some watermelon, cherry or strawberry flavored sweet treats… after all, those happen to be the favorite summer candy flavors.
- How Candy Companies Can Avoid Missing Chocolates in Heart-Shaped Boxes?
Can you imagine what sweethearts would think if you handed them a box of chocolates and they found an empty space where one of their favorite toffee clusters should be? Or if a child opened up their bag of heart-shaped candy and it was only half-filled? Disappointment? Puzzlement? Anger? Read about one of the technologies used to help ensure weights match the label, and consumers don’t get less than what they are promised.
- No Metal Flavors for these Jelly Beans.
Jelly bean making begins with a hot liquid candy, which is flavored and colored, then poured into molds, dried, steamed, sprinkled with sugar, and polished. The beans travel through various stations on conveyor belts, are tossed and tumbled through barrel-like equipment, and bounced around on metal screens. The probability that pieces of screen, loose metal fasteners, and worn metal parts could fall into the batches of candy is something that quality engineers at confectionary companies try to address in their food safety programs. Read how food metal detectors can help.
- The Emotions Evoked by Chocolates
Certain research has shown that consumers overwhelmingly believe there are emotional health benefits to eating chocolate. The report also emphasizes the fact that consumers care about what’s inside the chocolate as well as what’s inside the package. If you are a manufacturer of chocolates you better be paying attention to the look, the smell, the taste, and the packaging – which all contribute to the emotional appeal of the brand as well as the bottom line results.
- Crazy New Snacks for the New Year
Sour crunchy crawlers, boxed peanut brittle mix, and cereals that look and taste like Jolly Rancher candies were some of the snacks deemed crazy a couple years ago. What isn’t crazy is making sure they are inspected by the latest food safety equipment. Read about technologies used by innovative snack manufacturers.
- How Does that Chocolate Feel?
There is a factor involved in the total chocolate sensory experience; an important property for the success of a chocolate is mouth feeling. To better understand how to achieve the desired mouth feeling and other physical properties, more detailed measurements on the basic materials, for example the fat contained in the chocolate, as well as on the final product are needed. Learn about rheological testing to control the quality of chocolates.