Todays post is continued from 12/05/14 What does it take to make a candy cane, package it, market it, and distribution?
Today’s post is by Heather Powell, Director of Customer Services at SafeSourcing Inc.
What does it take to make a candy cane, package it, market it, and distribution? All of these involve procurement. Today, the candy cane makes up a significant amount of the $1.4 billion Christmas candy market. In fact, billions of candy canes are made and consumed each year.
We have learned the history of the candy cane in part 1 and what ingredients are needed to make candy canes and how to procure the raw ingredients. Today we learn how to make a candy cane and package it.
1. The first step of production involves blending the ingredients together in a large vessel. Typically, a stainless steel kettle is used that is equipped with automatic mixers. Ingredients can be poured or pumped into the batch by workers known as compounders. At this step, the water, sugar, corn syrup, and other processing ingredients are combined. They are then heated to over 300°F (141.5°C) and allowed to cook until they form amber liquid.
2. While it is still hot, the sugar mixture is poured on water-cooled tables. The candy cools slightly and is sent to the working machines. These devices are equipped with arms that stretch the candy repeatedly until it looks silky white.
3. While the candy is being stretched, a line worker adds the proper amount of flavoring. Also, coloring may be added at this point.
4. Another worker then takes a large portion (95 lb [43 kg]) of the warm candy and forms it into a loaf. Part of the loaf is put off to the side, dyed, and cut into strips. For the traditional candy cane, this portion is dyed red. It will become the red stripes in the final product. The 4 in-long (10 cm) red strips are then pressed at set intervals into the white loaf.
5. The loaf can then be sent to the extruder machines to convert it into a candy cane. The loaf passes through the extruder and comes out the other side on a conveyor as a long strand of candy. The strand runs under cutters that slice it at set intervals to produce individual candies. They are then passed through a device that bends the candy. Since the candy is still slightly warm it can still be shaped as desired. Some extruders can handle over 2,000 lb (907 kg) of candy an hour.
6. After the candy cane is formed, it is put into its packaging. Some manufacturers wrap the candy cane in a clear plastic. This is done right as it is exiting the extruder. The plastic is then wrapped around the candy cane and sealed by a heat sealer.
7. In most instances, a set amount of candy canes are collected and boxed in secondary packaging. These boxes are passed through a shrink-wrap machine and sealed. This extra layer of packaging ensures that no moisture damages the product. The boxes are then put into shipping containers, put on pallets, loaded on trucks, and delivered to stores around the country.
Quality control is an integral part of all candy production. The first phase of control begins with tests on the incoming ingredients. Prior to use, lab technicians test ingredients to ensure they meet company specifications. Sensory evaluations are done on characteristics such as appearance, color, odor, and flavor. Other physical and chemical characteristics may also be tested such as liquid viscosity, solid particle size, and moisture content. Manufacturers depend on these tests to ensure that the ingredients used will produce a consistent batch of candy canes.
The next phase of quality control is done on the candy cane paste. This includes pH, viscosity, appearance, and taste testing. During production, quality control technicians check physical aspects of the extruded candy. A comparison method is typically used. In this method, the newly made product is compared to an established standard. For example, the flavor of a randomly sampled candy cane may be compared to a standard candy cane produced at an early time. Some manufacturers employ professional sensory panelists. These people are specially trained to notice small differences in tactile, taste, and appearance properties. Instrumental tests that have been developed by the confectionery industry over the years may also be used.The process of making candy canes can be done on a much smaller level at home or in the instructions above on a large scale.
In the large scale, items to be purchased or procured would be the candy kettles, stainless steel tables, working machines, extruder, conveyors, cutters, plastic wrap machine, heat sealer, various types of cardboard, shipping containers, pallets and hand pallet jacks as well as fork lifts. In addition, you can procure hiring services of standard and seasonal workers, fork lift drivers and temporary delivery truck drivers, janitorial/sanitation workers, certified engineers and lab technicians and quality control supervisors.
SafeSourcing, Inc. can help you source your manufacturing goods and services, create and run a Request for Proposal and compress the suppliers pricing by running a Request for Quote. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.
We look forward to your comments.
Tomorrow we will discuss how to market candy canes and how SafeSourcing can help in this area.