As coating the gum is always one of the most critical, and at the same time, one of the most important, steps of the production process, I thought this news appeared yesterday would be of your interest.
The new patent, filed by Perfetti, claims that there is no use of the usual wax or shellac at the final stage of the coating. Instead, this patent, describes the use of powder at the final stage of the coating. By doing so they obtain what they call “satin effect”. Here you have the link to the article published by Confectionery news.
If we review the usual coating process, carried out inside a coating pan which turns continuously, we find three main steps:
1- Initial stage /Gumming. When we add a layer of gumming agent (gum arabic) on the surface of the gum. The reason for this is to fill the holes on the rough surface of the gum and to help the next layer to adhere to the gum center.
2- Engrossing stage. Where we add several syrup charges to the gum center. The syrup is a solution of sugar (or poliol in case of sugar free products) with water. When the syrup is added all the centers get wet (there is “distribution” phase) and then they are dried with air, so the water evaporates and the sugar/poliol remains on the surface. This is repeated many times until the producer obtains the required weight of coating in the piece. Choosing the right poliol and drying the surface in a proper way will result on a crunchy coating, which is what the final consumer appreciates. This engrossing stage is time-consuming so all producers try to optimize the procedure in a way that the maximum amount of coating is obtained in the shortest possible time. One of the options is the use of syrup with higher concentration of solids (sugar or poliol). In this case, as we are adding more solid material every time we add the syrup, the coating is formed faster. However this will result on a rough surface which is not interesting. More diluted syrup will give a soother and nicer surface, but the coating time will be longer. Another option is to add the syrup faster (more additions per unit of time), but as the syrup wets the centers they become sticky and this practice has the risk of obtaining many pieces that stick together one to the other, which of course is not acceptable.
3- Final stage /Polishing. Once we have the coating layer that we want, we use shellac to seal and protect the gum piece and wax to make it shine. Usually this stage is not a major problem and does not require much time or expertise.
This final stage is the one that the Patent eliminates. Instead, it uses the addition of powder at the final stage. The powder will help dry the last addition of syrup. In fact this technique is used on what is called “soft coating”, which is used for other products. This technique (drying with powder) does not result on a crunchy product but reduces the coating time considerably. Jellies are coated at the engrossing stage with this “soft coating” technique because they do not need to be crunchy. This procedure described in the patent uses it only at the last stage, so I do not know the effect it will have on the final result. For sure the product will be less shiny (that’s why the name “satin effect”) due to the lack of wax. I do not know how this will affect the acceptance by the consumers, who usually prefer shiny and crunchy chewing gums.