This weekend it’s the Easter Weekend! It’s the top selling season if you look at chocolate gifts. If you have a look in the supermarket now, you will find chocolate eggs, easter bunnies and bonbons in many variations.
And if we talk about various flavors of chocolate, that’s part were flow instruments come into the picture.
Chocolate confectionery industry
I would like to share my findings within the growing chocolate confectionery industry and the trends in using flavors. Who else can do this better than a woman you should think, as 75% of the women report that they indulge in chocolate, against 68% of the men.
Chocolate… a growing worldwide market of $100 billion once started with a simple choice between Milk, Dark or White chocolate. Nowadays the choice in variations is huge due to flavourings.
Chocolate as a seasonal gift is still very popular. Around the holidays we tend to buy more chocolate. The top selling season for chocolate is not Valentine’s Day, as you might think, but Easter. Besides treating yourself with chocolate, there is an emotional aspect. Chocolate can have a positive effect on your mood, especially with young adults. A popular reason for the increasing sales.
The majority of the chocolate buyers are looking for options with mix-ins as opposed to the conventional unflavoured varieties.
Flavour and textures
The global chocolate market has seen considerable innovation in flavour and texture. New product development continues to be imaginative, with more exploration of flavours and textures in addition to the traditional sweetness. However, the consumer base tends to be rather traditional as the most popular flavours still are Hazelnut, Caramel and Almond.
Older consumers tend to have a lower engagement with chocolate. The lack of interest reflects their desire to eat healthy. To regain this group of adult customers, companies have turned to tactics such as using alcohol flavours, organic ingredients, and premium positioning such as dark chocolate with Limoncello or chocolates filled with sweet liqueur.
It may come as a surprise, but a healthy lifestyle, which is one of the major trends worldwide, is also responsible for a substantial growth of the chocolate market and that’s not without reason. Chocolate, specifically dark chocolate with more than 85% cocoa, can offer beneficial health benefits. This results in labels mentioning:
- Rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and other minerals
- Powerful source of antioxidants
- Protective against cardiovascular disease
The growing awareness of the health benefits of dark chocolate is one of the reasons why consumption of chocolate is increasing. With the rising popularity of dark chocolate, the sales for other variations are also going up. People are seeking other ‘healthy’ variations, such as sugar-free, gluten-free, kosher or fair trade chocolate. Due to these ethical claims, the industry has seen an enormous growth in variations.
In order to enhance a healthy image for chocolate, functional ingredients such as fibers, proteins, micronutrients, quick energy (guarana extracts), green tea extract, or chia seeds are more and more often added to the chocolate.
The increasing demand for chocolate also has its downside. About 3 million tons of cocoa beans are consumed annually of which more than 70% are produced by four West African countries: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. Cocoa is a delicate crop and trees planted a quarter century ago have hit their production peak and the land they grown on are not as fertile as it once was. A large rehabilitation of land and trees is necessary to prevent the loss of crop production. Also climate changes are taking their toll.
This results in high costs for raw materials and unstable economic conditions in cocoa-producing nations. To prevent a supply shortage, a number of well-known chocolate producing companies have decided to invest in rehabilitation of the land and trees to make sure that cocoa will be available in the future.
This happens in a time that developing countries such as China, India, and Russia expect to increase their chocolate sales volume by 30%.
Mass Flow Meters in your production process
Due to the enormous growth of chocolate variations, using flavours and functional ingredients, mass flow meters and controllers find their way into the confectionery industry. Coriolis flow meters in combination with a pump are an ideal solution for dosing flavours and functional ingredients. Using the Coriolis instruments for additive dosing means less downtime between batches, traceability of ingredients, and higher product consistency and quality.
Watch our video about an additive dosing solution for the confectionery market.
Download our brochure (Ultra) low flow Coriolis competence for the confectionery industry.
Within the medical arena there is increased pressure on budgets and financial accountability, with a significant trend for the sector to look again at how resources are used and where savings can be made.
One of the largest expenditures in most hospitals is the cost of purchasing or producing the various medical gases needed, such as Medical Air, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Nitrous Oxide. Often the usage and consumption of these gases is neither monitored nor measured or, whenever it is done, it is often a crude estimation, inaccurate and recorded only by pen and paper.
Most hospitals rely on the rate at which the cylinders (in which the gas is supplied) empty to determine the amount and rate of gas used. There are of course many issues associated with this method, such as:
- The amount of gas in a particular sized cylinder can vary greatly, even when directly delivered by the gas supplier
- Total gas consumption and peak times of consumption cannot be accurately determined
- Leaks can go undetected
- Specific point of use consumption is impossible to determine
This makes it very difficult to manage costs overall and to assign invoicing costs to individual departments and sections.
A company specialising in the design, installation and maintenance of gas systems was asked to install the medical gas network in a new hospital. An approach was made to Bronkhorst UK Ltd for the supply of gas meters which could then be communication-linked to the building maintenance system.
Thermal mass flow Instruments with integrated multi-functional displays were offered to fulfil both the accuracy and reliability requirements . As a result of their through-flow measurement (Constant Temperature Anemometry - CTA technology) the thermal mass flow instruments offered the additional benefits of no risk of clogging, no wear as there are no moving parts, minimal obstruction to the flow of the gas and hence ultra-low pressure drop, all based upon the fact that the instrument body is essentially a straight length of tube.
In addition to the local integrated displays both 4…20 mA and RS232 output signals were available ensuring integration with the Building Management System (BMS). This gave the end user real time continuous data logging and remote alarming should the gas supply enter low- or high-flow status for any given event. As a double failsafe the instrument offers both on-board flow totalization and further hi/lo alarms.
The installation of the mass flow instruments for this hospital application provided the following benefits to the client:
1. On primary networks:
- Separated invoicing for hospital/clinic/laboratory departments sharing the same source of medical gas
- Monitoring and acquisition of consumption data
- Leak detection within gas line, safety vent and medical gas source
2. On secondary networks:
- Independent gas consumption invoicing between the health institution departments
- Over-consumption detection
- Monitoring and acquisition of consumption data
- Leak detection within gas line
Subsequent installations across Europe have followed the trend of increased accountability by installing a Mass Flow Meter for the incoming bulk delivery, obtaining a totalized flow reading and cross matching this to the bulk invoice. This could be useful in the event of inadvertent errors or typos when a bulk delivery invoice is being raised.
Why using a Controlled Evaporation and Mixing system can decrease food waste
We are all aware that the current level of food waste cannot be sustained if we have a hope of reducing food poverty across the world. This is not just a Western issue; globally food is lost or wasted at different points in the supply chain. Today’s technologies, such as sterilization, can help reduce this spoilage. However, the strict compliance requirements will ask for continuous improvement of this technology. An analysis from the Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations highlights some discrepancies;
So, where can we make a difference?
Looking at the graph of food losses below, and the statements above, we can see that it is worthwhile to invest in production techniques, potentially to increase the shelf life of packaged food. This would have a positive impact on the waste of food in developed countries.
One of the ways to improve these figures is to improve the sterilization of the packaging that food is placed in, to reduce spoilage and increase shelf life. This is the point where Controlled Evaporation Mixing (CEM) systems come in the picture.
Bronkhorst share in extension of the shelf life
Sterilisation of packaging to extend shelf life is not something new, it already has been done for years. I believe the first aseptic filling plant for milk was already presented in 1961. However, it is a technology which has been improved tremendously throughout the years and still is improving. Bronkhorst has an extended range of instruments which can support you in this process. An ingenious development in this area is a Controlled Evaporation and Mixing system (also called a CEM), as one compact solution for industrial processes such as sterilization. The compact solutions consist of various type of instruments, such as liquid and gas flow meters and an evaporator.
Using Controlled Evaporation Mixing (CEM) systems for sterilisation
The challenge given to Bronkhorst via a customer that was using a Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) mix (containing 35% of H2O2 and water) to decontaminate carton and plastic packaging for liquid and cream filling. Using a mix of H2O2 is an excellent way to do this, because it is great at killing bacteria and can be easily evaporated. Bronkhorst is an experienced supplier of this kind of solutions.
To get the best production with minimal waste you need to:
- Dose the correct amount of H2O2 mixture
- Too much and the final product is spoiled
- Too little and the residual bacteria is too high
- Avoid de-gassing of the H2O2 mix
- Have a controlled flow that condenses on the inside of the package
- Limit the flow. If it’s too high it will increase drying time at the end of sterilisation
The best result for this application was given by vapour generation combined with a Coriolis mass flow meter. Because H2O2 mixtures are not particularly stable this results in changing physical properties. Adding a Coriolis mass flow meter to the CEM made the measurement of mass flow medium properties independent. Furthermore as the Coriolis instrument is capable of measuring medium density, it can be used to monitor the concentration and thus watch over quality of H2O2.
Using a CEM system has some real advantages:
- Stable temperature of vapour
- Stable concentration of condensation because of a controlled dew point of the mixture
- All of the above is possible because the gas, liquid and mixing temperature are controlled
Benefits as perceived by the customer
- Stable liquid mass flow, even if physical properties vary
- Monitoring the concentration and quality of the H2O2
- Monitoring and traceability of the sterilisation process
- Mass flow control of liquid
- Mass flow control of gas
- Direct control of dew point through control of gas and air mixture
- Increased use-by-date
- Longer life of fresh food