Baker Perkins is expanding its portfolio of granola products with the development of new equipment to make crunchy granola bars.
The granola market is expanding rapidly, and Baker Perkins has developed a series of complete system to make a variety of products. This latest development adds to an equipment range which already includes crunchy baked granola cereal.
The new process involves compressing a sheet of pre-mixed granola to a higher density than conventional cold-formed granola bars, in order to achieve a biscuit-like product with a sharp bite. It was developed to fill a distinct, emerging niche market.
A feature of the system is a newly developed forming unit to meet the challenge of accurately guillotining the baked granola slab into bars. This features servo-control to ensure complete control over the cutting operation.
Oats are the usual base for these new bars, although other grains or dehydrated vegetables are also possibilities. Inclusions and coating – usually with yoghurt – can provide variety.
Granola represents a significant opportunity for food manufacturers thanks to its rapidly increasing popularity around the world both as ready-to-eat breakfast cereal and cereal bars.
There are several drivers for the growth of granola including increasing awareness of the health benefits of oats (high fibre, slow energy release and gluten-free); the relentless growth of the cereal bar market; and, as a breakfast cereal, speed and convenience compared with oatmeal (porridge).
The initial mixing process involves blending dry ingredients in a batch mixer and then metering them into a continuous mixer along with oil and sugar to form a mass. Because the high level of compression helps to bind the mass together, less syrup is required for the new, hard bars – a distinct plus for the health conscious consumer.
The mass is transferred to a live bottom bin which provides a metered feed to a feeder/spreader unit. The feeder/spreader creates a loosely compacted sheet of constant thickness that is evenly distributed across the full width of the oven infeed band. An even and consistent thickness across the band is vital to achieving consistency of texture and appearance in the final product.
A compression roll provides a final consolidation and gauging of the sheet before baking.
After cooling, a slitter and guillotine divide the sheet into individual bars before wrapping. Alternatively, to produce a smooth cereal of free-flowing consistency, the sheet could be fed into a kibbling unit before packing.
In addition to granola bars, Baker Perkins uses wirecut technology to make a variety of fruit filled and breakfast bars.
Baker Perkins’ TruClean wirecut allows filled bars to be produced with an unlimited variety of sweet and savoury fillings, including low fat options. Baker Perkins’ equipment offers an extensive choice of shapes, profiles, fillings and toppings. It also accommodates ingredients with recognized health benefits such as whole grains, nuts, fruit pieces, low-carb crispy pieces, fibre, soy and whey protein.