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Banish the bloom in your chocolate production

4 min read
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You don’t need me to tell you how popular chocolate is. Whether it’s Easter eggs, a box of Celebrations to share with friends and family at Christmas or (if you’re anything like me) just because you fancy it, there’s always a reason to buy chocolate. Science can actually back me up here, as the International Cocoa Organisation estimates that the average Brit consumes about 11kg of chocolate a year. That’s a lot of chocolate buttons…

The confectionery manufacturing process isn’t simple. Over the years, I have worked alongside numerous chocolate manufacturers, so I understand the challenges they face and the hard work that goes into delivering high-quality confectionery at scale.

Achieving the right balance between price and quality, and creating the right environment for their product, are two of the biggest concerns I hear about regularly.

The power of dehumidification

You might be surprised to know that with dehumidification, you are able to achieve both.

Dehumidification should be used at every stage of the production process, from the transportation of the cocoa beans to storing products before they hit the supermarket shelves.

But how does it actually work?

By removing the excess moisture from the air and creating a stable climate, dehumidifiers protect product quality, ensure reliable production and reduce drying times significantly - boosting profits for your business.

Compromised chocolate

So, what happens if dehumidification isn’t in place?

Well, let’s picture the scene: You just got back from your weekly food shop and you’ve decided to treat yourself to a nice cup of tea and a chocolate digestive (a staple in any household if you ask me). But when you open the packaging, the chocolate doesn’t have that rich, shiny colour that you were expecting. Instead, a white/grey coating has formed on its surface.

“What is it?”, “Can I still eat it?” and ”Why has it happened?” are all questions which will undoubtedly be racing through your mind.

Well this is known as a ‘chocolate bloom’. Fear not, it shouldn’t affect the flavour and the chocolate is certainly still edible. But, as a consumer, I wouldn't blame you if you were put off from eating it. It doesn’t look appetising.

In fact, in these situations, many customers would probably throw the packet in the bin, leading to product wastage and potentially poor customer reviews. This is even more significant if the quality is noticed at a much earlier stage in the production cycle.

Manufacturers don’t want to sell less than perfect chocolate to their customers. More wastage for business results in a drop in bottom line profits.

‘The bloom’

So what actually is chocolate bloom? There are two types: fat bloom and sugar bloom.

A simple trick to tell which one you have in front of you is by the surface of the chocolate. If the chocolate has a granular-like feel and the white/grey coating doesn’t disappear to the touch, it’s sugar bloom. If it does disappear, it’s fat bloom.

When moisture comes into contact with the chocolate through condensation, rapid temperature changes or ineffective storage, it re-crystallises on the surface, creating the ‘sugar bloom effect’. Simply put, it occurs as a result of ineffective humidity control and once present, it’s impossible to remove. So, maintaining the perfect climate throughout the end-to-end manufacturing process is essential to ensure the chocolate stays in perfect condition.

Fat bloom will occur naturally over time, but there are a number of ways the process can be accelerated. One of the main reasons for the change in appearance is when chocolate products aren’t kept in perfect storage conditions. Any environment that has a high, humid climate will speed up the process of fat migration into the chocolate, leading to the white-greyish coating forming on the chocolate shell.

As with sugar bloom, getting the climate perfect is ultimately going to prevent any imperfections to the chocolate, so getting the right dehumidification unit in place will help guarantee a high-quality end product.

Dehumidification to ensure stability

Whilst there are a number of things you can do during the manufacturing process to prevent both types of chocolate bloom, the best way to control your climate perfectly is through dehumidification.

Stability is key as rapid fluctuations in either temperature or humidity can accelerate the ‘blooming’ process. There are ways you can avoid this manually, like ensuring your chocolate acclimatises when transferring products from cold to warm storage. But, by installing a state-of-the-art dehumidifier, you are guaranteeing reliable results for your confectionery products all year round.

Like sugar bloom, avoiding fat bloom depends on keeping conditions consistent. That means consistent temperatures and consistent humidity levels. In fact, I would personally argue that maintaining stability is actually more important than meeting the target humidity level.

Through dehumidification, products will maintain their quality throughout the manufacturing process and keep longer in storage as well.

Increased speed

The introduction of the right dehumidification unit does more than just keep quality levels high. It can also accelerate the drying process.

For certain confectioneries, days and weeks can be wasted if a fit-for-purpose dehumidification system isn’t installed. There are huge production cost savings to be made by introducing a dehumidifier. Faster drying times means the same quality product can be produced at greater speed. This is especially important for small or artisan confectioners who are looking to stay ahead of the competition.

So there you have it. By controlling the humidity levels all year round, you can achieve consistent product quality in a fraction of the time. Dehumidification gives manufacturers the power to enhance production reliability, reduce wastage and ensure the end consumer receives a desirable product.

In short, dehumidification has a place at every stage of the production cycle and you’ll see a guaranteed return on investment.

If you are a chocolate manufacturer looking to install a dehumidification system or to upgrade your existing unit, I’d be happy to answer any queries or discuss how dehumidification can make your business more profitable.

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