Nacional, which is part of the Amorim-Lage group, already manufactures traditional cornflakes using two APV Baker cereal cookers. The new cooker-extrusion plant is the catalyst for major expansion into the cereal sector with a variety of high-value own-brand and supermarket own-label products.
Amorim-Lage is the leading miller in Portugal, and also has developed strong positions in related sectors including biscuits and pasta.
APV Baker supplied and installed a complete process plant, from dry powder mixing through to drying, at Nacional's factory in Trofa near Oporto. It will initially make a variety of different expanded products: cornballs, cocoballs, choco curls, golden squares, stars and rings, as well as plus co-extruded filled pillows. All of them, except the pillows will be coated with a honey, sugar or glucose based glaze.
Most Nacional products are cut into individual pieces by the die as they leave the extruder: die design is crucial in controlling shape, expansion and shell structure, and providing end products of differing formulation and shape.
A key feature of the APV Baker installation was the ability to respond to market demand by rapid changeover between products, including those where different raw materials and syrup are involved.
For example, to create filled pillow products, which cannot be cut at the die a mobile crimping unit is wheeled in and out of the line.The system also includes a 'Thermoglide' toaster. These units are ideal for toasting, drying, roasting and expanding a wide range of cereals and snacks - the products are carried through the toaster on a fluidised bed of air to minimise product damage.
Nacional is taking the opportunity to improve the quality of products from its existing cornflake line by diverting them through the new Thermoglide and coating system.
The APV Baker syrup preparation and coating system is also said to enhance product flavour and appearance. The Autofeed weighing and feeding system feeds a skid-based syrup preparation system that dissolves the sugar granules and incorporates cocoa into the dissolved syrup before metering the syrup to a coating drum where it is sprayed onto the product.
The entire product range was proven in the APV Baker Innovation Centre at Peterborough in the UK. This facility contains laboratory and production scale extrusion plant, and is widely used by food manufacturers for process and product development trials.