Fully automated lollipop coating line unveiled
A new GEA Aquarius Coating Line for producing fluid, powder and granulate coated lollipops is to be introduced by the company at the upcoming Confitexpo in Mexico.
The line forms, coats and wraps lollipops, and GEA states that this is the only fully automated solution (patent pending) currently available in the world.
Coatings can be used to add colour, texture, shine and flavour to lollipops and result in a unique product with strong market potential. Next to applying fluid, powder or granulate which can be applied to a hard candy lollipop centre fillings such as bubble gum or chewy candy are also still possible.
Kees Le Loux, segment sales manager for the GEA Aquarius lollipop manufacturing equipment, comments: “We would like to work closely with our customers on these ideas for different coating applications. We would like to invite interested customers to our facility in Weert (the Netherlands), to run tests on our coating test installation, such as sweet coatings – for example, caramel, syrup and caster sugar. The ideas extend to ground nuts, grated coconut, disco dip, sherbet and yoghurt. Sweet and sour combinations can also be applied".
A chili-coated lollipop may seem strange to European tastes, but hot, spicy confectionery is extremely popular in Mexico. Le Loux adds, “Development of this coating solution was initially triggered by a request of a European customer for a line to produce chocolate-coated lollipops. A little later, a meeting with a Mexican customer led to a discussion about coating lollipops with chili powder, and the concept started to take shape.”
To master the challenges of powder coating, the development team turned to colleagues from GEA’s meat processing activity in Bakel (the Netherlands). The GEA OptiFlour and GEA OptiCoater are well established for controlled flour coating of meat and poultry products. With various modifications to how products enter, run through and exit the machine, the GEA OptiCoater became the GEA Aquarius PopCoater for confectionery applications. Its highly controlled way of applying powder not only ensures the lollipops have a clean appearance as the powder is kept away from the stick, but the amount of powder on the lollipop is also controlled, the applied quantity of powder consistence and powder waste is absolutely reduced to an absolute minimum. Since GEA also considers agreeable working conditions important, the dust emissions have been limited to almost zero.
The GEA fully automated coating line solution (patent pending) includes forming, transferring, cooling, wetting, coating, drying, wrapping and quality control. The cooling and drying technology is a further development of an existing solution. “The coating line concept arose from responding to customers’ requirements, and we have the facilities in our technology centre in Weert available to test and refine new coating applications", Le Loux adds. "In a mature confectionery market like lollipops, it is important to innovate and enable customers to create new exciting products. This line will make it possible to bring hard candy lollipops with coating on the market. That is a great way for our customers to differentiate their products."
– Confitexpo takes place in Guadalajara, Mexico, from August 2-5. GEA will be located at booth number 850/851, and visitors will be able to taste some of the coating ideas GEA has for the new line, such as 'disco dip', coconut shaving and syrups.