Randy Hofberger, president of R&D Candy Consulting and the American Association of Candy Technologists (AACT) said enrobing can be up to four times faster than molding.
“You can have an enrobed piece going from enrobing to pack in ten minutes or less, whereas molding would take 30-35 minutes,” Hofberger said.
“With compound coatings you can increase speed even more because of the quick set times – you can cut the time in half to around five minutes from enrobing to being packed,” he said.
The consultant also said that enrobing enables manufacturers to decorate with inclusions. “This has visual appeal…Consumers expectations are higher – just having a plain coated piece doesn’t bring as much. They want to have good decorations.”
“There are a lot of variables with an enrobing line which is definitely appealing; there are ample possibilities for inclusions after enrobing.”
Hofberger said that he has seen rising consumer demand for specialty coatings including organic and fair trade, reduced sugar content and fortified with probiotics.
“With these specialty coatings, it would possibly involve a slight change in application temperatures but most of the time, minimal changes would be needed when running these through enrobing lines.”
Coating up variety
Enrobers enable confectionery manufacturers to alter the thickness of the chocolate or compound in several ways – through the use of different coatings with varied viscosity or directly on the machine.
“There’s also a wide variety of products that you can run through an enrober including biscuits, fudge and toffees – that’s one of the advantages it has over molding which may be limited by the size of inclusions,” Hofberger said.
In molding, colors can be added to the shell to get a vivid difference, he said, but inclusions used on the exterior are limited.
Enrobing also works equally well with chocolate and compound coatings, he said. “Molds with compound coatings are not as forgiving because they do not contract as much for easy release.”
Wrapping up the future?
Hofberger said there was a continued desire to make enrobers easier to clean – most recently fuelled by allergen concerns. “This has been a growing trend for the past decade… But they can still be quite difficult to clean.”
He said there is also growing focus on energy efficiency in enrobing lines – particularly at the tempering stage. "Generally tempering happens separately before entering the enrobing line but there are some with tempering inside. But if you have a tempering unit incorporated into an enrober you would then lose the flexibility on detachability for allergen cleaning."