A Tetra Pak subsidiary has found a dipping and coating solution for novelty ice creams, which it hopes will eliminate sub-standard ice cream coatings - welcome news for ice cream manufacturers seeking to satisfy the quality-conscious consumer, Tom Armitage reports.
Although ice cream coating equipment has been on the market for a number of years, the revamped Hoyer Dry Coater, designed and manufactured by Hoyer Tetra Pak , ensures novelty ice cream products are given an even coating of dry ingredients - referring to products including dry nuts, cocoa shavings and sugar strands, as well as a number of other dry confectionery ingredients.
A source at Tetra Pak told DairyReporter.com that, "ice cream manufacturers constantly watch their competitors to find a point of difference, or something which makes their products distinctive - be it in the decoration, quality, or type of ingredients they use. This is particularly fitting for the novelty ice cream sector, the growth of which relies heavily on innovation."
The launch of the revamped equipment comes at a time when consumers' tastes are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and the average consumer is more quality conscious.
In recent years, the majority of growth across the western European ice cream sector has centred on premium, super-premium and luxury branded ice cream products - a highly competitive area traditionally dominated by larger food manufacturers such as Nestlé, Unilever and MasterFoods (Mars).
According to analysts Mintel, the UK alone generated ice cream sales of approximately £1,306 million (€1,856 million) in 2003, and future growth in the sector will depend heavily on manufacturers' ability to provide more innovative, higher-quality products.
The Hoyer Dry Coater equipment involves a specially designed chamber distribution system, which evenly distributes different dry coatings to any type of novelty ice cream product.
According to the manufacturer, tens of thousands of products can be coated at any one time - although manufacturers with a smaller product line will be able to produce up to five or six thousand coatings.
"The main difference in using this upgraded equipment is simply that coatings are applied at a much lower pressure than before - it can provide ice cream products with an all-over even coating, which previously proved problematic for some manufacturers," Hoyer Tetra Pak commented.
But the benefits provided by the equipment are not simply aesthetic, claims the company: "Obviously applying coatings at a reduced pressure ensures ingredient preservation, as well as lowering the instance of below-par coatings, and resulting ingredient waste."