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07/02/2024

Top 10 Challenges in Chocolate Manufacturing  

Achieving the perfect chocolate experience is not an easy task.  Each step of the process, from seed to bar, must be taken care of to achieve that luscious bite.  

  1. Finding the right melting point for chocolate couvertures   
  2. Fat Bloom due to inadequate tempering. 
  3. Fat Bloom due to incompatibility.   
  4. Sugar Bloom.  
  5. Too high or low viscosity for certain applications.  
  6. Traceability and consistency of ingredients.  
  7. Temperature control.  
  8. Difficulties in determining shelf life.  
  9. Cross-contamination of allergens during chocolate manufacture. 
  10. Regulatory or compliance challenges in chocolate manufacturing. 
  11. Bonus: Finding an ideal packaging. 

While variety selection, fermentation, and drying are all key steps in this process, in this blog, we will focus on the common challenges confectionery & snack manufacturers face when using chocolate to make their products.  

1. Finding the right melting point for chocolate couvertures 

Melting chocolate at the right temperature is key in chocolate manufacturing. A common mistake is melting over 55°C (131°F). Particularly for milk and White chocolates, this may cause the viscosity to rise to a point where it will be difficult to use in fluid applications.  

Viscosity will also affect the production process as the chocolate may prove difficult to move through the plant’s equipment.  

The Best solution for this common challenge in chocolate manufacturing is checking equipment in advance to guarantee that temperatures are set at the ideal level for each type of chocolate.  

We recommend melting between 45° and 50° C (113°F-122°F) for milk chocolates, between 40-45° C (104°F-113°F) for white chocolates, and between 50 to 55° C (122°F-131°F) for dark and oat m!lk chocolates.   

A popular correction for high viscosity due to melting at high temperatures is to add cocoa butter. It is also important to note that adding fats different from cocoa butter will increase the risk of fat bloom and require declaring the additional ingredient on the pack. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that there is no possible fix if the chocolate burns due to high temperatures during melting.  

2. Fat Bloom due to inadequate couverture tempering 

Getting chocolate tempering right is quite an art form.  

Particularly, achieving the ideal crystallization curve for each type of chocolate couverture is key. A common challenge in this process relates to cooling temperature. When the chocolate temperature is not lowered enough in the crystallization phase, unwanted results such as fat bloom may appear. In this case, obtaining a soft chocolate that will melt easily is common. 

Usually, this is accompanied by a lack of luster or dullness and not enough snap.  

Besides temperature, another common cause for these tempering-related challenges when tempering mechanically has to do with speed. When the tempering process is done too fast, similar unwanted visual and sensory results as described above may appear.  

The solution to both cases is likely the same: melt and temper again. Fat bloom can also happen for other reasons. 
 

3. Fat Bloom due to incompatibility 

When using fillings or inclusions that contain fats different from cocoa butter, it is common to obtain fat bloom due to incompatibility.

Fat bloom can be evidenced by the appearance of greyish or white streaks on the chocolate’s surface. To solve this issue, ensuring that the fats in the inclusions or fillings are compatible with cocoa butter is important.  

4. What is Sugar Bloom in Chocolate?  

Different mishaps in the chocolate-making process can cause this unwanted effect, all of them related to too much humidity in the chocolate. Sugar bloom is evidenced by a white dusty covering in the chocolate caused by the crystallization of sugar when exposed to condensation due to long solidification periods or too low crystallization temperatures.  

This may also happen if molds are not dry or if there is too much humidity in storing. As an overall rule, avoiding contact between the chocolate and water is key to preventing sugar bloom.   

5. Too high or low viscosity for confectionery applications  

Viscosity or fluidity in chocolate will determine the ease of handling the chocolate in certain applications as well as the thickness of the shell obtained. This is particularly important for enrobing and molding hollow figures. For example, for use in a chocolate fountain or for dipping, you would need a high-fluidity chocolate, with a viscosity of around 1000cp at the desired processing temperature.  

For chocolate bars, higher viscosity is preferable.  A chocolate’s viscosity is mainly determined by the percentage of cocoa butter in the formulation.  

>>Get to know more about chocolate fluidity in coating applications.<< 

However, it is not always possible to have a specific chocolate for each application, or sometimes, when blending, viscosity might be off. Correcting this with additional cocoa butter or emulsifier for higher fluidity is possible. 

6. Traceability and consistency of ingredients  

 Slight differences in ingredients with different sources may affect the sensory profile and the process’s variations. Keeping constant records of the performance and characteristics of each ingredient is important, as well as working closely with suppliers to demand consistency and proper documentation.

At Luker Chocolate, we implement a comprehensive, integrated management system with continuous audits of our processes and products to ensure product quality and food safety standards. This also enables us to have the necessary traceability in place to respond rapidly to quality issues or customer requirements.   

7. Temperature control

As temperatures rise, there is more demand for temperature control in logistics. Cocoa butter will begin to melt at 32°C, commencing the melting process. The melted product will solidify if low temperatures are reached again, causing undesired visual and sensory results. Thus, it is important to maintain a controlled temperature between 18 to 20°C in a dry environment (humidity below 65%) throughout the logistics process.  

8. Difficulties in determining shelf life  

Usually, shelf life is determined using laboratory analysis, including microbiological analysis, sensory evaluations, and accelerated aging chambers. It is possible to develop these in-house capabilities, although it can often be expensive for mid- and small-size companies. If not, find specialized companies in this type of analysis.

These analyses are packaging-specific.  

9. Cross-contamination of allergens during chocolate manufacture becomes

The first thing to come to mind when avoiding cross-contamination of allergens might be the technological procedures and investment in equipment cleansing. Even though these are certainly relevant, a big investment in technology like pig pushers is not always necessary or possible.  

The key factor here is to establish a protocol in which teams have clear ingredient manipulation procedures, even more so when having a high rotation of personnel. Much artisanal work gets done in chocolate manufacturing, so anyone who manipulates the ingredients must know using separate tools, mixers, and spatulas for different ingredients is key to avoiding contamination.  
A constant reminder of these good practices and coordination in the preparation methods will help to establish a cross-contamination-free process immune to personnel rotation and innovation in chocolate creations. 

*Use cocoa butter to clean when necessary, and avoid using water to prevent clashes with the fats and sugars in chocolate ingredients. 

10. Regulatory or compliance challenges in chocolate manufacturing 

Food manufacturing is constantly regulated to comply with health and market demand requirements. To meet said food safety conditions investment is necessary. 

There are increasingly more regulations aimed at food safety, which results in processes that require investments. There is a component of standard operating protocols that demands constant training, induction, and education for the operational aspect. Meaning teams’ way of work must adapt to the constant changes derived from regulatory changes. 

Often, these regulations clash with product innovations, requiring adjustments in formulations or recipes to meet the requirements. 

Bonus: Packaging challenges 

Overcoming the 10 challenges above and obtaining a picture-perfect chocolate creation will all be for nothing if adequate packaging is not designed and chosen for the product.

The main challenge with packaging is balancing design, health, and sustainability while protecting the product’s integrity.  Why is sustainable packaging so important? Click on the link to find out.

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