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.
Confectioners have steadily refined candy cane recipes and production methods. By incorporating new information about the characteristics of ingredients and food production processes, they have been able to make candy cane manufacturing an efficient process. The raw materials used to make candy canes are specifically chosen to produce the appropriate texture, taste, and appearance. Sweeteners are the primary ingredients, but recipes also call for water, processing ingredients, colorants, and flavorings.
Candy canes are primarily made up of sugar. When sugar (sucrose) is refined, it is typically provided as tiny grains or crystals. It is derived from beet and cane sugars. The sugar used in candy cane manufacture must be of high quality so that the proper texture and structure will be achieved. It is the unique physical and chemical characteristics of sugar that makes formation possible. When sugar is heated, it melts and becomes a workable syrup. The syrup can be manipulated, rolled, and fashioned. As it cools, the syrup becomes thicker and begins to hold its shape. When the candy is completely cooled, the sugar crystals remain together and form the solid candy cane.
Corn syrup is also used to produce candy canes. It is a modified form of starch, and like sugar it provides a sweet flavor. When it is mixed with the sugar, it inhibits the natural tendency of sugar to crystallize. Crystallization would result in a grainy appearance and a brittle structure. Corn syrup has the added effect of making the sugar concoction more opaque. Without the corn syrup and other ingredients, the candy would be transparent. The corn syrup also helps to control moisture retention and limits microbial spoilage. Beyond sugar and corn syrup, other sweeteners are sometimes incorporated into the candy cane recipe. These may include glucose syrups, molasses, or other crude sugars. Some low calorie candy cane recipes may incorporate artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
Certain ingredients are put in the candy cane recipe to aid in production. To dilute the sugar and make it workable, water is used. During the manufacturing process the water is steadily boiled off, and the end product has much less water than what it started with. Another processing ingredient is cream of tartar. This compound has the effect of producing air bubbles that help expand the sugar loaf and make it more stable. Salt also helps to adjust the chemical characteristics of the syrup. Typically, a small amount is used so that it is undetectable in the final product.
A variety of other ingredients may be incorporated into a candy cane recipe to produce various effects. To give the candy flavor and color, wintergreen or peppermint oils are added. Other natural flavors obtained from fruits, berries, honey, molasses, and maple sugar have also been used in candy cane production. Artificial flavors have also been added to improve taste. Additionally, fruit acids like citric acid and lactic acid can be added to provide flavor. Artificial colors such as certified Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) colorants are used to modify the color of the final product. In the United States, the federal government regulates these colors and qualifies each batch of colorant produced by the dye manufacturers. This ensures that no carcinogenic compounds are added to food products.
Sugar is a commodity that has a price index that fluctuates with the market increases and decreases. As of December 6, 2013 the market is down -0.10 bring the price per pound to $16.59 per the Sugar, Free Market, Coffee Sugar and Cocoa Exchange (CSCE) contract no.11 nearest future position, US cents per Pound.
Manufactures of candy canes can source their sugar directly from manufactures or wholesalers. This can create extra spend or savings depending on which source you purchase from. Typically through distributors and wholesale companies, there is additional shipping, handlings, and middle man fees included in the purchase price.
Whether you have been purchasing from the same source for years or you are just starting your business, running a Request for Proposal will help you understand who the companies are, where they source their sugar, what their pricing structure is, what price index they use (this will help you determine historically any increases or decreases), and any additional fees they may include.
SafeSourcing, Inc. can help you source your goods, 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 make candy canes and package them and how SafeSourcing can help in these areas.