Co-extrusion system enhancements improve control and performance
- Product Development
The wide array of extruded snacks achieved by creative die technology, and a new technique allowing product colour changes ‘on the run’, was the focus of Baker Perkins’ presentation for the extruded snack industry at Interpack (Hall 4 stand C21).
The range of dies on show at Interpack produces snacks ranging from the standard to the exotic. Plate dies are used to produce a range of direct expanded products such as corn curls, corn balls, multi-grain crisps, maize sticks, wheat/oat pillows, potato maize chip sticks, maize shapes, and coated balls.
Die inserts used with plate dies provide a rapid change capability for up to 50 products from a single die, normally for product development. They can be used for production purposes when an especially wide range is made.
At the other end of the spectrum, there is a clear trend towards more complex products, to provide differentiation in a crowded market. A new development on show at Interpack is a co-extrusion die with 16 streams for high output production – 12 streams was the previous maximum.
The co-extrusion die produces continuous cereal tubes filled with a savoury paste or cream. The tubes can be formed into a variety of snack formats including mini, bite-size or hand-held pieces in pillow, stick, bar or wafer shapes. They have the characteristic crispy/crunchy texture of a conventional snack with the added dimension of a tasty filling. Flavours can range from classic cheese to modern Asian, Hispanic or Middle Eastern flavours. Sweet fillings are also possible.
A pillow crimper, which cuts the product stream to length and seals it after the die, was also at Interpack.
A third die serves a unique extrusion process developed by Baker Perkins to make a completely new range of products. This die produces a thin, wide sheet of dough that is cut into regular, geometric shapes by an in-line rotary cutter. The shapes may be fried as a conventional snack, or oven baked for a lower fat content, and then flavoured. Some types of crackers and biscuits can also be produced.
The colour change system enables changeover between variations of an extruded snack to be made ‘on the run’: for example, matching the colour of vegetable-flavoured snacks such as carrot, beetroot or tomato.
Colour is injected in the die, and the transition phase is extremely rapid. This skid-based system spells an end to the inconvenience and cost of cumbersome mixing and storage of different coloured snacks, with its impact on waste, hygiene and shelf life.
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