There’s been loads of innovation within the snack world just lately, led by the proliferation of wholesome choices which might be shaking up the class. These embrace plant-based and gluten-free options, in addition to snacks filled with extra protein, much less sugar, useful advantages and extra.

“Snack corporations and their R&D departments are constantly coming to us asking for methods to make extra and modern better-for-you (BFY) snacks,” famous Nico Roesler, North American pretzel & snack gear gross sales supervisor, Studying Bakery Techniques (RBS). “The massive factor is useful snacking: including components that not solely present protein or different vitamins to a food regimen but in addition style nice.”

Whereas shoppers are snapping up the BFY snacks that hit these marks, these meals can push manufacturing to the restrict.

“Snack makers are working very exhausting to make use of components which might be thought-about wholesome with out compromising the style and texture that make individuals wish to eat them when snacking,” defined Dave Nichols, vp of gross sales and advertising, Volkmann USA. “However the gluten-free, sugar-free and plant-based calls for put fairly a burden on meals engineers and processors to copy the identical properties.”

To ease this burden, producers are turning to the newest extruders that may course of even the trickiest components, textures and shapes of at the moment’s snacks.

BFY snacks usually function rising components like pulses, seeds and various and historical grains, all of which may be obstacles when extruding.

“Whether or not a specific ingredient will pose a problem relies on its stage of starch, fats, oil, moisture content material, and so on.” mentioned John Barber, gross sales supervisor, US and Canada, Clextral USA. “For instance, when working with high-protein recipes, pulses, or fruit and vegetable components, acquiring a top quality form, or a desired stage of growth is usually a problem. For components with greater ranges of fats, the problem is discovering the appropriate steadiness for the specified crunch, or hardness and growth.”

Warmth is commonly the most important consideration for bakers trying to obtain the right texture for his or her more healthy extruded snack, Mr. Roesler famous.

“Pulses have a tendency to interrupt down and burn at low temperatures in comparison with corn,” he mentioned. “For one thing like peas, operators must know the totally different acceptable temperatures and the way greater temperatures trigger the ingredient to react in an extruder. Pea flour and protein can change state from good to agency in a short time in an extruder, inflicting items to get blocked after which burn components.”

These plant protein blends and different various powders additionally are inclined to stream by way of the extruder extra difficultly and require a fragile course of, mentioned Sharon Nowak, world enterprise improvement supervisor, meals and pharmaceutical industries, Coperion and Coperion Okay-Tron.

The corporate’s Actiflow, for instance, is a real-time vibration machine mounted externally to the feeder however instantly tied to its loss-in-weight sign, detecting any adjustments within the extrusion course of.

“If the feeder experiences a bridge or rat-hole and little or no materials is being despatched to the screws, the ActiFlow vibration is activated, and the bridge breaks,” Ms. Nowak defined. “After the load sign is steady once more, the vibration is deactivated, stopping extra packing that will generally happen with conventional vibration units.”

One other pattern that may problem extruders is bigger particulate or inclusion measurement.

“Persons are attempting to include bigger items, whether or not it’s fruits or nuts, to get extra product definition and a greater look,” mentioned Ken Hagedorn, vp of the bakery sector for Handtmann.

When extruding these bigger and probably extra delicate inclusions, snack producers want a course of that received’t break them down or diminish remaining product high quality. One doable answer is a vane cell pump.

“Different extrusion techniques are inclined to smear or break components like blueberries, and finally the dough will begin to change colours,” he mentioned. “With the vane cell expertise, we actually don’t get that breaking apart of the particulates.”

Equally, Reiser’s Vemag double-screw pump can transport product with out damaging bigger particulates. For snack bar manufacturing, Reiser’s bar extruder attachment ensures constant measurement and weight, and a waterwheel stream divider will also be added for multilane manufacturing.

Bakers should additionally guarantee these giant particulates don’t find yourself drying out the dough and making it tough for the extruder to course of them, he added.

Coperion Okay-Tron’s new vibratory feeder can also be very best for these inclusions, Ms. Nowak mentioned. The patent-pending vibratory drive ensures correct mass stream with none attrition. The corporate additionally presents a brand new Good Glide Ending (SGF) anti-stick floor remedy that may stop sticking and glazing of sure components. That is one other widespread situation bakers encounter with sure BFY snack components.

“For instance, if you happen to add a 3/8-inch nut piece, versus a 3/8-inch apple piece,they’re the identical measurement, however the apple passes by way of actually simply as a result of it tends to be slippery, whereas a nut could be very dry, and you may have a more durable time getting it by way of the system,” Mr. Hagedorn defined.

With so many potential challenges when extruding, it’s important to grasp the way to alter a course of to deal with a wide range of BFY components.

As a result of various components could also be extra delicate to warmth, it’s vital producers take into account when to introduce water to the extruder, in addition to its temperature, Mr. Roesler famous. He really useful that operators introduce room temperature or chilled water.

“Then, when managing the temperature of the barrel and screw, we suggest decreasing the temps within the cooking zones by turning heaters off,” he mentioned. “The temperature from the friction contained in the extruder will naturally rise however to not boiling level or to the purpose of negatively affecting the method. Then, the die face is heated externally, and the product’s starches will quickly broaden as it’s extruded by way of the new die face plate.”

The screws of RBS’s high-pressure extruder are in-built small interchangeable elements. Every part is roughly 5 inches lengthy and may be added or eliminated relying on the product.

“For various components like pulses, operators can organize a screw design so as to add friction and cut back slip again,” Mr. Roesler mentioned. “For corn, they’ll use a screw association that permits extra slip again, they usually can add heating components if required.”

Clextral’s Evolum twin-screw extruders provide Superior Thermal Management, a self-learning system that ensures a exact temperature in every barrel of the extruder, bettering power effectivity and stability when extruding heathy snack components, Mr. Barber famous.

Sure components might require changes to the conveying system transferring them to the extruder as effectively, together with alterations to air stream or lowered conveying velocity, Mr. Nichols famous.

“This fashion, very delicate components may be protected throughout the vacuum switch and extra sturdy components may be allowed to stream sooner,” he mentioned. “The Volkmann conveying system is fitted to the hopper of the extruder, and when the extruder is prepared for extra materials, it indicators the Volkmann controller to mechanically switch extra materials from storage to the extruder hopper for feeding. This minimizes the necessity to alter the extruder when feeding these components.”

Producers will even flip to co-extrusion when making the newest BFY crammed merchandise like snack bites and bars. John Giacoio, vp of gross sales, Rheon USA, famous that the corporate’s co-extruders are constructed to deal with all kinds of recent and extra delicate components and may be simply adjusted, able to extruding as much as 4 totally different supplies.

“The essential form that our co-extruders make are ball and stick form, however we’ve got many choices and attachments to make these crammed merchandise into nearly any form,” he mentioned. “We’ve got warmth stampers to make an impression, half-moon stampers and plenty of extra forming and shaping choices. We additionally provide automated panning techniques that simply join to those machines.”

Snack makers are additionally implementing twin-screw extrusion strains to enhance product high quality, flexibility and throughput.

“Twin-screw extrusion expertise versus single screw permits you to handle the growth for an array of components, particularly extra fatty, oily, moist and sticky sort components,” Mr. Barber mentioned. “That is way more tough if not inconceivable on single-screw extrusion expertise.”

Making modern merchandise with these extruders fortunately doesn’t sometimes require new expertise, he added.

“New merchandise may be made on the twin-screw extruder by making changes in course of parameters, dies, screw profile, barrel size, specialty form manufacturing kits and extra,” he mentioned. “In different instances, we are able to make new merchandise by altering upstream or downstream gear.”

For instance, Clextral presents a wide range of “clip-on auxiliaries” that may be added and eliminated for downstream operations as wanted, together with die face slicing for curl or ring shapes and co-extrusion die for crammed snacks.

Handtmann’s vane cell pump techniques additionally promote flexibility as vanes may be added or eliminated, offering a wide range of chamber sizes when extruding.

And the modular design of Coperion Okay-Tron’s extrusion barrel and screws means the method may be tailored to the particular wants of rising components. The Coperion ZSK meals extruder’s outer to inside working screw diameter ratio of 1.8 and screw velocity of 1,800 RPM allow it to course of a variety of uncooked supplies and components at excessive capacities.

This text is an excerpt from the December 2022 situation of Baking & Snack. To learn the complete function on Extrusion, click on right here.