Whether they’re simply providing a sweet experience — or also delivering vitamins, minerals or cannabis oil — gummies remain a popular format among confectionery and supplement manufacturers, as well as consumers.

As reported in Candy Industry’s State of the Industry series, non-chocolate chewy candy generated $3.9 billion in the year ending June 14, 2020, up 5.2 percent from a year ago, according to IRI, a Chicago-based research firm. About a third of the Top 20 non-chocolate chewy brands tracked by IRI are gummy brands.

Edward Smagarinsky, group product manager (mogul), tna solutions, recently spoke to Candy Industry about trends in gummy manufacturing equipment and the options tna can offer gummy manufacturers.

CI: What should manufacturers look for in a gummy manufacturing system?
ES: Safety should always be the No. 1 consideration when choosing a starch-based gummy manufacturing system, due to the combustion hazards associated with the handling of dry, uncontained starch. With the tightening of explosion safety requirements, new moguls supplied within the European Union must comply with stringent ATEX certification codes for explosive dusts. Meanwhile, businesses operating in North America must adhere to the strict standards of IECEx or HAZLOC. Manufacturers should therefore ensure new equipment is fully compliant with all local safety standards. 

Flexibility is another key factor: producers should look for highly versatile systems that can offer the ability to develop a wide range of new and exciting confectionery options. A mogul that can cater to different formats, shapes, colors, flavors and recipes, while offering flexible product output, means the best possible ROI for manufacturers. tna’s NID forté MHP 3 mogul, for example, features depositing pumps capable of handling different recipe types — from lightly aerated to heavy syrups — as well as offering compatibility with a wide range of molding starches. The addition of a flexible seasoning, polishing and finishing solution can also help producers widen their offering and give their business the agility necessary to adapt to ever-changing market trends. 

In the highly price-sensitive market of gummy production, every cent counts. It’s therefore crucial that confectioners choose a high-performance system that can help them increase efficiencies and gain that all-important competitive edge. The very latest confectionery processing lines feature sophisticated electronic controls and smart on-line feedback to offer the best possible performance in terms of speed, reliability, waste reduction and quality, by allowing manufacturers to monitor and optimize their lines in real-time.

Finally, a commitment to quality shouldn’t end once an installation is complete — manufacturers seeking to improve their ROI must consider suppliers that offer outstanding aftermarket service and high-value support in terms of spare parts, maintenance and even equipment optimization. 

CI: What factors should manufacturers consider when looking for kitchens or candy cookers?
ES: Although tna does not manufacture confectionery kitchens or cookers, we’re still able to source the highest quality equipment for our customers via our wide network of partner suppliers. These providers are specially selected for their expertise and compatibility with tna solutions to ensure we deliver the best possible production line from cooking, molding and finishing, right through to packaging and end-of-line solutions. 

The most crucial factor we consider when choosing a kitchen or cooker supplier to add to our partnership network is experience. Successful gummy formulation is an exact science, so it’s vital to glean the correct insights via qualified food technologists to ensure processing parameters, such as temperature, mixing, volumes and much more, are just right. 

CI: Are more clients seeking starchless molding? Or is starch still the most popular option?
ES: At tna, we’re privileged to work with some of the world’s leading confectionery brands and this has lent us unique insights into the topics, trends and challenges currently impacting the industry. Although we’ve not noticed a marked move towards starchless molding, we’re aware of some of the challenges our customers experience when using traditional starch molding techniques. It’s therefore important that we continue to innovate and make the starch depositing, molding and cleaning processes offered by our solutions, easier, simpler and more convenient. For instance, our confectionery processing solutions ensure starch is contained to designated areas of the mogul, helping reduce the production downtime needed for deep cleaning, while also minimizing wastage of costly starch and enhanced production efficiency.   

CI: What are the advantages of starch molding? Starchless molding?
ES: By far, the main advantage of starch molding is the flexibility and choice it offers manufacturers; from varied textures and bites, to hardened outer coatings which are better able to resist damage when packaged, starch molded gummies present an attractive option for producers and consumers alike.

In the case of many regional favorites, such as the specialty jellies and fondant creams popular in Eastern Europe or the harder gummies favored by Northern Europeans, starch molding is simply the only option currently available that can offer the distinctive mouthfeel consumers have come to expect. This capacity for virtually endless varieties won’t break the bank either, as the nature of the starch molding process allows production of many different shapes and sizes at a relatively low cost. 

Starchless gummy production does offer some unique benefits of its own, most notably reduced curing time and lower risk of dust explosion, as there is no possibility of starch escaping the system or igniting. However, the limited candy type and textural variety available with starchless molding means, for the time being at least, that starch molding remains the favorite among manufacturers. 

CI: What solutions does tna offer for coating gummies with sugar or oil?
ES: From innovative no-heat sugar coating, to reliably consistent gummy oiling, tna offers a wide range of confectionery finishing solutions that look to improve on conventional techniques and deliver high-quality finished products every time. 

Sugar, citric acid powder or oil coatings are the finishing touch for a whole range of gummies, but they can present a host of challenges for the manufacturer, too. For example, a sugar coating is traditionally applied by running the product through a steam bath to make the gummy’s exterior sticky. It is then passed through a sugar curtain before being tumbled in a seasoning drum. This process, however, can often result in delicately molded shapes, such as gummy bears, becoming degraded by the heat and excessive moisture of the steamer. In addition, the sugar curtain seasoning method can be difficult to control and optimize, resulting in inconsistencies between batches and even individual products. 

The winning combination of the tna intelli-flav OMS 5 seasoning solution and NID supra-fin DLC 3 offers producers a gentler, more reliable and recipe-focused approach to sugar coating and overall gummy product finishing. Using a continuous air-jet cleaning process the NID supra-fin DLC 3 ensures efficient removal of all starch, priming the product to enter the tna intelli-flav OMS 5’s patented lightweight seasoning drum. The intelli-flav OMS 5 can then then accurately coats each gummy in sugar using a tacking agent to adhere the seasoning rather than heat, which ensures even product coverage without affecting any finer details in the molding. This process uses the exact amount of sugar, acid powder or other flavoring ingredient required to coat the product, resulting in a more consistent, high-quality product and reduced seasoning wastage. 

In terms of gummy oiling, tna takes a similarly innovative approach. The conventional method for oil application relies on operators measuring application levels by eye, which can easily result in gummies being over- or under-coated. Using a highly accurate controlled spray method, the tna intelli-flav OMS 5 allows manufacturers to ensure reliable and repeatable gummy coating, while also maintaining overall product quality and appearance. This advanced control also means manufacturers can easily control the type and quantity of oil used in a recipe for a better nutritional profile — an important consideration when looking to appeal to health-conscious consumers. 

CI: Has tna solutions made any innovations related to production speed?
ES: Producers continually look to improve processing speeds. At tna, however, we take a more holistic approach by looking to improve the overall efficiency of our customer’s entire production line. Even the most incremental adjustments can amount to significant differences in terms of throughput, energy efficiency and waste reduction — we focus on making small changes that add up to big improvements. 

One of the ways we look to achieve this is via advanced sensing and feedback control offered by intelligent sensors which can be placed throughout the confectionery production line. These sensors provide real-time performance data that can be used to optimize the performance and efficiency of every component. The incorporation of central control panels featuring continuous motion control software allow for total transparency and rapid identification of errors before they can impact production output. 

CI: Through tna’s work with confectionery manufacturers, can you offer any insights on gummy formulation trends?
ES: As the health and wellness trend continues to gather steam, we’re seeing sugar-free, allergen-free and 100 percent naturally-flavored gummies grow in popularity. As such, manufacturers are looking to replace ingredients like palm sugar with natural fruit juice concentrate or include functional additives, such as plant-based protein or vitamins, to appeal to consumers increasingly concerned with maximizing their health and wellbeing. Indeed, gummies are a great choice for producers looking to diversify into food supplements, providing a convenient and attractive delivery format that effectively masks the taste of functional ingredients. 

Simultaneously, gummies continue to be a popular format for buyers seeking more indulgent pick-me-ups with more niche variations incorporating caffeine or CBD oil. With their versatility and widespread appeal, gummy confectionery presents a golden opportunity for producers looking to widen their offering and engage more adventurous consumers looking for a sweet treat.