Scaling on up.. Oh Sh*T

Louwegi
@louwegi
09/27/16 11:28:18AM
16 posts

Hi Everyone, 

After almost 4 years in business, we finally got our big break. Our 10 Chocolate bar skus have been picked up by a grocery chain in Southern California (41 stores) . As exciting as it is, we are scrambling to figure out how to increase production while staying true to our product/process which has got us here in the first place. 

Our biggest shift is moving from pouring bars by hand to using depositors. The issue is that most of our bars contain larger inclusions ( almonds, hazelnuts, etc) which of course aren't depositor friendly. 

We believe there is only 2 options: 

1. Sprinkle inclusions on back

2. Deposit 1/3 of chocolate into mould and then sprinkle inclusions then top off with chocolate. 

Any Ideas/help would be greatly appreciated  :)

Equipment currently have:

- 120 lb Auto Savage Bros Tempering Machine

- 200 lb Auto Savage Bros Tempering Machine

- Savage Bros Vibrating Table

- 100lb Stonegrinder

- 60lb Stonegrinder

Chocotoymaker
@chocotoymaker
09/27/16 09:47:40PM
55 posts

Get your self a Selmi with a removable screw. You will be able to use small inclusions and that should alleviate most of your scaling up concern.

  Also, before you start spending $$$, I would suggest toughing it out for 6 months or so to get an idea of how many bars your new accounts are going to move. The bar market is ultra crowded and insanely competitive. 41 or 500 accounts does not necessarily mean several thousand bars a month or several hundred a day.

    Best

         

Peter3
@peter3
09/27/16 10:03:22PM
86 posts

1. What is the process you are using now? What is your product?

2. What is the production capacity you are looking for? As in pieces (what size) per hour or per shift?

3. Will you need to pass an audit of the grocery chain?

4. You can buy depositors that handle large inclusions. Answers to the above questions will help to make a decision on this.

5. You can buy volumetric depositors that will handle small batch production.

6. You can but a mould with raised dividers (which go almost to the surface), fill it in one go and easily break into smaller bars/tablets/pieces that can be individually packed.

We use the last method: Add 18kg of tempered chocolate to a kettle with temperature control on the water jacket (set to 31C), add inclusions,mix for 2 minutes, deposit (manual operation of the valve) out of the kettle into a mould sitting on a scale, vibrate and cool.

After cooling demould, break into 4 x 100g pieces, pack and box (all by hand).

Team of 5 can make over 250kg per shift. 

Two points:

1. Dosing accuracy is not great resulting in large give away (not important in our case)

2. You have to mix small batches so the chocolate does not loose the temper.

Louwegi
@louwegi
09/27/16 10:37:40PM
16 posts

@chocotoymaker thanks for the response. Will look into the Selmi with removable a screw. We started off in one of their stores in Downtown LA as a trial, and have averaged 250 bars a month for the last 6 months. This is with at least one demo per week, but, only 7 skus. We anticipate the new stores to average 200 bars per month, as there won't be as many demos but 3 additional products. 

41*200= 8200 bars per month 

Louwegi
@louwegi
09/27/16 10:55:21PM
16 posts

@peter3

Thanks for the detailed response. 

1. Pouring tempered chocolate through the guillotine valve into a bowl. Mixing in inclusions. and pouring into 64g moulds with a portion scoop. 

This has worked well for us to date but its very inaccurate and is not possible with the amount of bars we need to make. 

Our product is Dark Chocolate bars/ Coconut Milk Chocolate bars, with inclusions like almonds, hazelnuts, jungle peanuts, coffee beans, etc

2. It will really depend on how well the stores do, but we feel that we need to have at the minimum of 2,500 bars produced per week in 3-4 8hr shifts. 

3. Already completed the audit earlier this year with UL Everclean

I will look into all of those depositors you mention. It seems that there is no small/mid size chocolate equipment that can handle large inclusions from my short bit of research. The volumetric depositors that we are looking at purchasing are made by Savage Bros. According to the company, it "may" handle very small inclusions, but have had so many issues with customers so they dont recommend it . 

Adding inclusions (temp of choc) to the kettle and pouring out of the valve seems pretty tricky. We have tried that technique with our products that dont have inclusions and things got very messy. I would also thing that it would be hard to have a even spread of inclusions in the bar. 

Cheers

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