Weaver Nut Company to boost production by 70% with Bell-style chocolate panning machine
The Pennsylvania-based company is only a 20-minute drive from the headquarters of US chocolate giant Hershey, according to the CFO at Weaver Nut, Vincent Weaver. Weaver along with his brother, Edward Weaver, run the firm together.
Weaver Nut primarily manufactures snacking chocolate items, such as trail mixes and almond chocolate, and it distributes over 4,000 different products to small independent shops and gourmet retail stores. The company also provides food manufacturers with raw ingredients, including nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
Adding more customers
Weaver told ConfectioneryNews adding more equipment will give the company about 70% increased production capacity.
“We’re looking to add more customers as whether it’s just a candy store that’s looking to stock their bulk bins or it could be somebody that’s looking for a contract manufacturer, so there are multiple different types of customers that we could satisfy their needs,” he said.
The production investment includes a bell-style chocolate panning machine, which tumbles the nut products in the center, while chocolate drizzles from the top, according to Weaver.
“Over the course of time, it will build up the chocolate all over the center, and then from there, the products will get cured and go into finishing pans where they will add a lacquer finish to look really shiny,” he added.
Cocoa, not sugar affects pricing
Weaver said Weaver Nut has added additional personnel to make sure that it complies with food safety related regulations since FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) started taking effect.
Even though FSMA increased costs for Weaver Nut, it has not much affected overall business, he added.
“Because the fact we would buy chocolate that’s already melted down, or [one of our supplies] Cargill is going to be buying all the raw ingredients like cocoa bean, and then processing the liquor and powder themselves,” Weaver explained.
“We’re not necessarily adding the sugar and formulating the raw material, so the sugar reduction trend hasn’t affected us as much [compared to other chocolate manufacturers],” he continued. “What would affect the pricing more is the oil fat, butter fats and the cocoa market in general.”
“Right now, the cocoa markets are actually favorable. It’s at an eight-to-10-year low,” Weaver said.
Weaver Nut has experienced double-digit growth each year on average, and expects to increase by an additional 25% to 40% with the production expansion.