Processing innovation: Pack Expo 2018

Candy production equipment companies bet on booming cannabis industry for growth

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: Don Goofy
Pic: Don Goofy

Related tags Innovation processing Cannabis

The cannabis industry had never been a major customer base for the candy production equipment company, Savage Bros, until three years ago when it sold10 depositors to the US edible manufacturers for about $200,000.

That was just the beginning of the story, Charles Albrecht, account manager at the Illinois-based company, told ConfectioneryNews at the recent Pack Expo held in Chicago from Oct 14 to 17, 2018.

“We started getting requests from the cannabis industry, particularly from the West Coast, where cannabis was first decriminalized so to speak.

“We were able to bring certain products to the market, including candy bars, dark, and milk bars on the chocolate side, as well as gummies, hard candies and caramel on the non-chocolate side,”​ he said.

The booming cannabis market brought the equipment maker $375,000 in revenue the following year, and now, Savage Bros anticipated $1.2m sales by the end of 2018.

“My focus has shifted from the general candy and chocolate companies to our cannabis customers… We’ve already achieved over half a million dollars in revenue [from edible companies alone] year-to-date,”​ said Albrecht.

He added Savage Bros also made record sales after Canada recently decided to legalize recreational marijuana, making it the second country in the world to do so after Uruguay.

“We sold 12 machines to one Canadian customer, with each of them being able to cook 20 pounds of confectionery products,”​ said Albrecht.

What equipment do edible manufacturers buy?

According to Savage Bros, its Firemixer 14 and universal depositor have been popular among the edible hard candy manufacturers.

Pic: Savage Bros.

They cook sugar-based candy products infused with cannabis in Firemixer 14 before depositing them into custom molds, labeled with the proper regulatory descriptions.

“This is a single-person unit with a user-friendly touch screen, and it’s very easy to clean,”​ said Albrecht. “There is also an agitator in here that can prevent sugars from burning.”

Additionally, Savage Bros. also provides melting machines for edible chocolate companies, including Kiva​ and Défoncé Chocolatier​.

As cannabis is becoming an increasingly important part of Savage Bros’ business, the company is considering adapting and customizing its equipment for its edible customers, according to Albrecht.

“Our engineers are constantly coming up with new ideas, drawing sketches and seeing how we can build our machines more effectively for them,”​ he said.

The creation of a new machine usually takes a long time, but the company is expected to add more automation because people in the cannabis industry do not necessarily come from a confectionery background and are not familiar with certain hand-making processes, Albrecht added.

“They are usually from agriculture, and they want to make it as simple and easy as possible to create edibles. So we want to help our customers come up with decent products at a consistent rate,”​ he said.

Ripple effect

The success of Savage Bros has created a ripple effect in the candy machinery industry.  

At the same National Confectioners Association [NCA] sponsored pavilion at the Pack Expo, Massachusetts-based Varick Enterprises is also trying to tap into the cannabis market.

Andrew Hintlian, VP of marketing and sales, said the company mainly offers hard candy forming machines and batch cookers, and it has the ability to assist mom and pop infused confectionery shops in producing edible hard and chewy candies at low capacity.

“We don’t have any cannabis customers yet. We are just giving them options at the moment,”​ he said.

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