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The durum and spring wheat harvest has wrapped up in the Northern Plains with a sigh of relief. Producers seem to be very pleased with both their yields and quality as compared to last year’s crop, which was negatively impacted by mid-harvest rains. Minot Milling has already seen new crop durum deliveries, from growers enrolled in our sustainability program, which exhibit quality attributes better than the mill has seen in several years. We are very proud of these growers that have partnered with us. They have shown that they can achieve favorable results that benefit them today, as well as future generations, through the practice of sustainable agriculture.
The North Dakota Wheat Commission has recently reported that the world durum situation in 2020 is characterized by smaller crops in the EU and North Africa, and production rebounds in the U.S. and Canada. Total world production is up marginally from 2019 at 1.25 billion bushels, but still about 8% below the 5-year average. The consecutive years of declining production in the EU and North Africa, combined with robust durum demand last year (for both feed and food use), has shrunk 2020 beginning inventories in many key countries as well. June 2021 stocks may hit a six-year low. This is leading to higher world prices for durum compared to this time last year, and prices in Europe are showing a firmer trend relative to the U.S. and Canada.
All in all, Minot Milling is positioned very well for 2021. We anticipate our farm inventories will be more than adequate to support the mill’s grain requirements for the upcoming year.
The Technical Aspects of the Cereal Manufacturing World
While we most commonly associate the word “cereal” with the breakfast food often enjoyed with milk, the term has a much broader definition that includes the grains used to manufacture pasta – and the aspects of that cereal world are more technical than you would initially think.
To manufacture a high-quality pasta, it is important to start with a clear understanding of the fundamentals – this includes the product’s intended application, the proper manufacturing pattern and technology, and the sourcing and determination of the ideal raw material it will be made from.
Industrial pasta manufacturing is a complex and versatile world requiring intricate knowledge of the physico-chemical properties and functionality of the required ingredients, the science and technology associated with the processing equipment and their impact on particular ingredients and/or blend of ingredients, and finally, the formulae and/or shape of interest. Constant changes and adaptation are the key to an effective and efficient industrial pasta manufacturing process. In the end, success is achieved by having the proper art, science, technology, and materials in the right sequence to generate a high-quality pasta for the desired application – all resulting in an enjoyable eating experience.
From the sourcing of raw material to the research and development and processing, a given cereal product, such as pasta, entering the market must meet particular nutritional, performance, quality, safety, and regulatory guidelines to provide the consumer with a comfortable and excellent eating experience. Throughout the process, it is important to have thorough knowledge and understanding of the technical aspects of every step.
Cereal manufacturing app for manufacturing all type of cereal breakfast, consumer packaged etc. Complete food business management including cereal quality, cereal inventory, cereal sales & shipping.
Cereal manufacturing background
For most of my childhood, a bowl of cereal at breakfast was the perfect start to my day. I remember enjoying it as a snack after school on more than one occasion, too, but it appears that today’s youth don’t enjoy the same meal, as sales sag within the United States. Producers aren’t sitting idly by, though, as they look abroad for new ways to grow their brands.
The Kellogg Co. discovered it had a problem in South Africa with its Corn Flakes brand. Customers were boiling the cereal and turning it into a kind of hot porridge. The company quickly switched gears, introducing a Corn Flakes Instant Porridge in 2012, and expanded the brand to a number of varieties and flavors. The company plans to expand growth in Asia, Africa and elsewhere by adapting their product lines to local tastes.
The Kellogg Co. also made a move in Egypt, purchasing Mass Food Group for $50 million in cash. Mass Food, which creates Temmy’s cereals and NutriFit cereal bars, boasts annual sales of over $18 million. Kellogg also acquired the business for its reach: the company currently exports to over 30 markets, including Europe, East Asia and Africa.
Perhaps not all is wrong in the U.S., however, as General Mills recently noted a 6% growth in cereal sales in the most recent quarter. Cereal remains the company’s biggest business globally, making up about 22% of annual sales. CEO Ken Powell said, “I feel like we’re about to turn the corner in cereal sales.”
Breakfast cereal is a processed food manufactured from grain and intended to be eaten as a main course served with milk during the morning meal. Some breakfast cereals require brief cooking, but these hot cereals are less popular than cold, ready-to-eat cereals.
General Mills plans to drive continued cereal growth by offering products that have taste, convenience, and health benefits, while investing in brand building, reported CNBC (Feb. 18).
For example, the company’s new Morning Summit cereal lists almonds as its first ingredient in order to attract health-conscious consumers who may not usually eat cereal for breakfast. Other new releases include Blueberry Cheerios and GoodBelly probiotic cereal.
After several years of declining trends, the $8 billion U.S. cereal market’s sales were flat in 2019, according to CEO Jeff Harmening. “We believe this category improvement has been driven by a combination of our stronger performance and some improving macro and demographic trends, including a stabilization in the balance of breakfast at home versus away from home, as well as a return to growth and the number of households of kids in the U.S.,” he said.
Additionally, General Mills’ sales of baking mixes and ingredients declined over the past five years, losing space to brands like Kodiak Cakes, even though Kodiak’s annual revenue is less than one-tenth of General Mills’ baking sales, reported The Wall Street Journal (Feb. 19). This may be a result of grocers relying on their own proprietary research to decide how to shelve certain products, which means less space for traditional supermarket staples in favor of niche items and store brands that deliver higher margins and are often in higher demand.
“Our retailers have better information now,” Harmening said. “So more of our conversation is about ‘How do we drive growth together?'”
General Mills said it is working harder to provide more insights than retailers or smaller brands can in order to remain relevant to grocery executives. “Our competitive advantage doesn’t come from looking at two different versions of truth and trying to talk them into something they shouldn’t do,” Harmening added.
For fiscal 2020, General Mills reiterated its outlook for constant-currency adjusted earnings per share to increase 3% to 5%, and organic net sales to increase 1% to 2%, reported Markets Insider (Feb. 18). The company said it was not able to currently quantify the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its fiscal 2020 financial results, due to evolving nature of the situation.
Meanwhile, the company will launch a 650,000 acre restorative farming project in Kansas’ Cheney Reservoir region, reported The Wichita Eagle (Feb. 19). The goal is to explore ways to save water, increase soil health, and reduce carbon footprints.
Twenty-four farmers were selected to participate and they’ll be paid for increased soil carbon, reduced greenhouse gases, and improved water quantity and water use efficiency.
Prehistoric peoples ground whole grains and cooked them with water to form gruels and porridges similar to today's hot cereals. Cold cereals did not develop until the second half of the nineteenth century.
Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals were invented because of religious beliefs. The first step in this direction was taken by the American clergyman Sylvester Graham, who advocated a vegetarian diet. He used un-sifted, coarsely ground flour to invent the Graham cracker in 1829. Influenced by Graham, Seventh-Day Adventists, who also believed in vegetarianism, founded the Western Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek, Michigan, in the 1860s. At this institute, later known as the Battle Creek Sanitarium, physician John Harvey Kellogg invented several grain-based meat substitutes.
In 1876 or 1877, Kellogg invented a food he called granola from wheat, oats, and corn that had been mixed, baked, and coarsely ground. In 1894, Kellogg and his brother W. K. Kellogg invented the first precooked flaked cereal. They cooked ground wheat into a dough, then flattened it between metal rollers and scraped it off with a knife. The resulting flakes were then cooked again and allowed to stand for several hours. This product was sold by mail order as Granose for 15 cents per 10-ounce (284 g) package.
Both W. K. Kellogg and C. W. Post, a patient at the sanitarium, founded businesses to sell such products as health foods. Their success led dozens of imitators to open factories in Battle Creek between 1900 and 1905. These businesses quickly failed, while Kellogg and Post still survive as thriving manufacturers of breakfast cereals.
Their success can be partially attributed to advertising campaigns, which transformed the image of their products from health foods to quick, convenient, and tasty breakfast foods. Another factor was the fact that Kellogg and Post both manufactured corn flakes, which turned out to be much more popular than wheat flakes. Breakfast cereals have continued to increase in popularity in the twentieth century. Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals are served in nine out of 10 American households.
Cereal Manufacturing Raw Materials
The most important raw material in any breakfast cereal is grain. The grains most commonly used are corn, wheat, oats, rice, and barley. Some hot cereals, such as plain oatmeal, and a few cold cereals, such as plain shredded wheat, contain no other ingredients. Most breakfast cereals contain other ingredients, such as salt, yeast, sweeteners, flavoring agents, coloring agents, vitamins, minerals, and preservatives.
The sweeteners used in breakfast cereals include malt (obtained from barley), white sugar, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Some natural cereals are sweetened with concentrated fruit juice. A wide variety of flavors may be added to breakfast cereals, including chocolate, cinnamon and other spices, and fruit flavors. Other ingredients added to
improve flavor include nuts, dried fruit, and marshmallows.
Vitamins and minerals are often added to breakfast cereals to replace those lost during cooking. The most important of these is vitamin B-i, 90 % of which is destroyed by heat. The antioxidants BHA and BHT are the preservatives most often added to breakfast cereals to prevent them from becoming stale and rancid.
The Cereal Manufacturing
Preparing the cereal grain
- 1 Grain is received at the cereal factory, inspected, and cleaned. It may be used in the form of whole grains or it may require further processing. Often the whole grain is crushed between large metal rollers to remove the outer layer of bran. It may then be ground more finely into flour.
- 2 Whole grains or partial grains (such as corn grits) are mixed with flavoring agents, vitamins, minerals, sweeteners, salt, and water in a large rotating pressure cooker. The time, temperature, and speed of rotation vary with the type of grain being cooked.
- 3 The cooked grain is moved to a conveyor belt, which passes through a drying oven. Enough of the water remains in the cooked grain to result in a soft, solid mass which can be shaped as needed.
- 4 If flour is used instead of grains, it is cooked in a cooking extruder. This device consists of a long screw within a heated housing. The motion of the screw mixes the flour with water, flavorings, salt, sweeteners, vitamins, minerals, and sometimes food coloring. The screw moves this mixture through the extruder, cooking it as it moves along. At the end of the extruder, the cooked dough emerges as a ribbon. A rotating knife cuts the ribbon into pellets. These pellets are then processed in much the same way as cooked grains.
Making flaked cereals
- 5 The cooked grains are allowed to cool for several hours, stabilizing the moisture content of each grain. This process is known as tempering. The tempered grains are flattened between large metal rollers under tons of pressure. The resulting flakes are conveyed to ovens where they are tossed in a blast of very hot air to remove remaining moisture and to toast them to a desirable color and flavor. Instead of cooked grains, flakes may also be made from extruded pellets in a similar manner.
Making puffed cereals
- 6 Cereals may be puffed in ovens or in so-called "guns." Oven-puffed cereals are usually made from rice. The rice is cooked, cooled, and dried. It is then rolled between metal rollers like flaked cereals, but it is only partially flattened. This process is known as bumping. The bumped rice is dried again and placed in a very hot oven which causes it to swell.
- 7 Gun-puffed cereals may be made from rice or wheat. The rice grains require no pretreatment, but the wheat grains must be treated to partially remove the outer layer of bran. This may be done by abrading it off between grindstones, a process known as pearling. It may also be done by soaking the wheat grains in salt water. The salt water toughens the bran, which allows it to break off in large pieces during puffing. The grain is placed in the gun, a small vessel which can hold very hot steam and very high pressure. The gun is opened quickly to reduce the pressure suddenly, which puffs the grain. Extruded pellets can also be used to make gun-puffed cereals in the same way as grains.
Making shredded cereals
- 8 Shredded cereals are usually made from wheat. The wheat is cooked in boiling water to allow moisture to fully penetrate the grain. The cooked grain is cooled and allowed to temper. It is then rolled between two metal rollers. One roller is smooth and the other is grooved. A metal comb is positioned against the grooved roll with a tooth inside each groove. The cooked grain is shredded by the teeth of the comb and drops off the rollers in a continuous ribbon. A conveyor belt catches the ribbons from several pairs of rollers and piles them up in layers. The layers of shredded wheat are cut to the proper size, then baked to the desired color and dryness. Shredded cereals may also be made in a similar way from extruded pellets.
Making other cereals
- 9 Cereals can be made in a wide variety of special shapes (circles, letters of the alphabet, etc.) with a cooking extruder. A die is added to the end of the extruder which forms a ribbon of cooked dough with the desired cross-section shape. A rotating knife cuts the ribbon into small pieces with the proper shape. These shaped pieces of dough are processed in a manner similar to puffing. Instead of completely puffing, however, the pieces expand only partially in order to maintain the special shape.
- 10 Granolas and similar products are made by mixing grain (usually oats) and other ingredients (nuts, fruits, flavors, etc.) and cooking them on a conveyor belt which moves through an oven. The cooked mixture is then crumbled to the desired size. Hot cereals are made by processing the grain as necessary (rolling or cutting oats, cracking wheat, or milling corn into grits) and partly cooking it so the consumer can cook it quickly in hot water. Salt, sweeteners, flavors, and other ingredients may or may not be added to the partly cooked mixture.
Cereal Adding coatings
- 11 After shaping, the cereal may be coated with vitamins, minerals, sweeteners, flavors such as fruit juices, food colors, or preservatives. Frosting is applied by spraying a thick, hot syrup of sugar on the cereal in a rotating drum. As it cools the syrup dries into a white layer of frosting.
- 12 Some cereals, such as shredded wheat, are fairly resistant to damage from moisture. They may be placed directly into cardboard boxes or in cardboard boxes lined with plastic. Most cereals must be packaged in airtight, waterproof plastic bags within cardboard boxes to protect them from spoiling.
- 13 An automated machine packages the cereal at a rate of about 40 boxes per minute. The box is assembled from a flat sheet of cardboard, which has been previously printed with the desired pattern for the outside of the box. The bottom and sides of the box are sealed with a strong glue. The bag is formed from moisture-proof plastic and inserted into the box. The cereal fills the bag and the bag is tightly sealed by heat. The top of the box is sealed with a weak glue which allows the consumer to open it easily. The completed boxes of cereal are packed into cartons which usually hold 12, 24, or 36 boxes and shipped to the retailer.
Cereal Quality Control
Every step in the manufacturing of breakfast cereal is carefully monitored for quality. Since cereal is a food intended for human consumption, sanitation is essential. The machines used are made from stainless steel, which can be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized with hot steam. Grain is inspected for any foreign matter when it arrives at the factory, when it is cooked, and when it is shaped.
To ensure proper cooking and shaping, the temperature and moisture content of the cereal is constantly monitored. The content of vitamins and minerals is measured to ensure accurate nutrition information. Filled packages are weighed to ensure that the contents of each box is consistent.
In order to label boxes with an accurate shelf life, the quality of stored cereal is tested over time. In order to be able to monitor freshness over a reasonable period of time, the cereals are subjected to higher than normal temperatures and humidities in order to speed up the spoiling process.
Breakfast cereal technology has advanced greatly since its origins in the late nineteenth century. The latest innovation in the industry is the twin-screw cooking extruder. The two rotating screws scrape each other clean as they rotate. This allows the dough to move more smoothly than in an extruder with only one screw. By using a twin-screw extruder, along with computers to precisely control temperature and pressure, cereals that usually require about 24 hours to make may be made in as little as 20 minutes.
From direct expanded breakfast cereals, to multigrain and corn flakes, we help you to effectively manufacture multi-colored products in a single process. Our special shape and cutting processes allow you to create a vast of figures and shapes.
Our breakfast cereal production systems offer you flexibility, efficiency, longevity and optimized energy use. Adjustable degrees of automation right up to fully automatic production ensure a high level of operating reliability and optimal production control. All of our process steps meet the highest standards of food safety. We operate worldwide, providing fast service and spare parts on all continents.
A Guide on the Production and Processing of Breakfast Cereals
Breakfast cereal is a type of processed food made of grain and intended to be eaten with milk as a main course during the morning meal. The two main types of breakfast cereals are defined by the way they’re eaten. Hot cereals, for example, require a brief cooking period but are less popular than the cold, ready-to-eat cereal. Hot cereal recipes have existed, in one form or another, since ancient times when people would grind whole grains and cook them in water to create various forms of gruels or porridge.
Cold cereals, on the other hand, were developed much later in the late 19th century. To some extent, they were invented because of religious beliefs. The precursor to what most of us today know as cereals was developed by the American clergyman Sylvester Graham, who was a strong advocate of a vegetarian diet. In 1829, he used coarse and unsifted ground wheat flour to create the Graham cracker.
Fast-forward several decades, and we have Dr. James Caleb Jackson, who invented the very first cold cereal called granula in 1863. Similar to Graham, Dr. Jackson was a proponent of a vegetarian diet and the eating of unprocessed foods. He was well aware of the effect that nutrition has on a person’s health and eventually created a dry, whole-grain breakfast cereal. The recipe was rather simple. He baked graham flour and bran and crumbled it. That said, granula was too hard to eat “right out of the box” and required about 20 minutes of soaking in milk or water. Nevertheless, this was faster and more convenient than was the case with hot cereals that required actual cooking.
Several years after the invention of granula, physician John Harvey Kellogg was introduced to the product, and he invented a similar variant of the cereal. Together with his brother, W. K. Kellogg, they discovered the first precooked, flaked cereal. Initially made of wheat, the same processing method was later used on corn, which proved to be more popular. Basically, the Kellogg brothers cooked the wheat or corn into a dough, flattened it between two metal rollers, then scraped it off with a knife. The resulting flakes were cooked once again and allowed to temper for several hours. In 1906, the Kellogg Company was established, and by 1909, it sold over one million cases of cereal.
Another pioneer in the early days of breakfast cereal was Charles William Post. Among his inventions in the industry are Grape Nuts in 1897, Post Toasties in 1904, and Post 40% Bran Flakes in 1922. Post founded the Postum Cereal Co. Ltd., which later became known as the General Foods Corporation.
Due to Kellogg’s and Post’s success, many other similar breakfast cereal manufacturing businesses opened in their area during the early 20th century. However, these other companies soon went out of business, whereas the Kellogg and Postum Cereal companies endured. Among the main reasons for their success was their advertising campaigns, which no longer focused on their products as simply being health foods but also quick, convenient, and tasty breakfast meals. Another reason was the introduction of corn flakes, which were tastier and more popular than wheat flakes.
Since then, breakfast cereal has grown in variety and popularity, ending up in most American households.
Breakfast Cereal Market Trends and Statistics
Today, the breakfast cereal market is at an all-time high. In 2020, the industry is expected to generate a revenue of $62.7 billion. The United States accounts for about a third of this revenue, at around $20.1 billion. The industry is also growing at about 4.1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). As previously mentioned, breakfast cereal is a highly penetrated category of products in mature markets, such as the United States and Europe. However, there is still a lot of room for growth in other areas of the world, particularly in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. In many of these regions, breakfast cereal is presented as a sort of novel food option and alternative to traditional foods that are typically available.
When it comes to the United States, cereal companies are looking into new ways to boost consumption and keep their customers engaged. One of these strategies is to reposition cereal as not only breakfast foods but also as something that can be eaten as a snack or dessert. Another strategy is to introduce both new and eye-catching flavors as a play on millennial nostalgia. For example, Hostess Donettes was introduced by Post Holdings, Caticorn by Kellogg’s, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch Churros by General Mills.
Another trend that cereal manufacturers need to keep in mind is the increased customer demand for healthier, less-processed ingredients used in their recipes. This is particularly relevant in product development when it comes to mature markets, such as North America and Europe. There are niched breakfast cereal brands that cater to these trends and add value by incorporating probiotics, ancient grains, seeds, nuts, and other so-called superfoods.
Raw Materials Used In The Manufacture of Breakfast Cereals
The main raw material used in the production of breakfast cereal is grain. The most common types of grains used in the breakfast cereal industry are corn, wheat, oats, rice, rye, and barley. There are some types of hot cereal, such as plain oatmeal, and some cold cereals, such as shredded wheat, that use no other ingredients. However, most breakfast cereals contain a multitude of other ingredients, depending on the recipe and processing method. Among these other ingredients, we can include salt, various types of sweeteners, yeast, coloring and flavoring agents, preservatives, vitamins, minerals, seeds, nuts, etc.
While some natural cereals are sweetened with concentrated fruit juice, most other breakfast cereals use more conventional sweeteners, such as white and brown sugar, corn syrup, or malt that’s typically obtained from barley. There is also a variety of other flavors and ingredients added to breakfast cereal, such as cinnamon, chocolate, various fruit flavors, marshmallows, dried fruit, nuts, and many others. When it comes to the added vitamins and minerals, these need to be added after cooking, unless they are heat-resistant. Vitamin B1 nutritional value, for instance, is reduced by about 90% when exposed to heat.
Breakfast Cereal Processing
There are several stages that breakfast cereal goes through before it emerges as a final product. There are also several types of manufacturing processes, depending on the type of cereal, such as flaked, puffed, shredded, etc. Regardless of the type of end product, the manufacturing process starts with preparing the grain.
Once the grain is received at the cereal factory, it will be inspected and cleaned. Some cereals will use whole grains, while others will crush the grain between huge metal rollers to remove the outer layer of bran and grind the grain into a fine flour. Whole and partial grains will be mixed with other ingredients in a large rotary pressure cooker. The speed of rotation, time, and temperature used during this process will depend, in large part, on the type of grain being used. Once the grain is cooked, it will be passed to a drying oven. However, a certain amount of water content needs to be left in the cooked grain so that it can be shaped as needed.
Other types of cereal use flour instead of whole grains. This flour is mixed with other ingredients and cooked in a cooking extruder. Basically, this is a piece of equipment consisting of a long screw encased in a heated housing. The screw mixes the flour with the other ingredients while also moving the mix through the extruder. At the other end, the cooked dough is expelled in the form of a long and continuous ribbon, which is cut into pellets by a rotating knife. These pellets will later be processed in a similar way to the cooked grains mentioned above.
● Flaked Cereal Production
Flaked cereals can be made from either whole grains or extruded pellets. The basic principle is that the cooked grains or pellets are allowed to temper for several hours, allowing the moisture content to stabilize. Once this tempering is complete, the grains or pellets will be subject to several tons of pressure to be flattened by two large metal rollers. The resulting flakes will be conveyed to an oven where they will be exposed to hot air, removing the excess moisture and toasting them until the desired color and flavor is achieved.
When it comes to flaked cereals made from whole grains, grain size is important to maintain the overall product quality. In most cases, unmodified corn starch will be added into the mix so that the flakes will be able to withstand processing. After cooking, the moisture content of flaked cereal needs to be between 28 to 32%. Controlling the moisture and texture levels of whole-grain flaked cereal happens primarily during the initial cooking, drying, and tempering phases. For extruded flakes, this happens mostly after extrusion. Nevertheless, the optimal moisture level of the finished product needs to be between 1 and 3% to ensure the correct crunchiness and toughness.
● Puffed Cereal Production
Typically made of rice and wheat, puffed cereal uses a piece of equipment known as a gun. After being cooked, cooled, and tempered, the rice grains will be partially flattened between metal rollers in a process known as bumping. Once bumped, the rice grains will be dried once more and placed in a high-pressure steam oven (gun) where they will swell in size. For the process to be effective, the temperature needs to be between 400º to 500ºF while the pressure should be about 200 lbs. psi. The oven will suddenly release that pressure, forcing the grains to release the steam very quickly and puff up in size.
At this moment in time, the puffed grains will have a moisture content of around 5 to 7%, which will need to be brought down to between 1 and 3%. It’s also important to note that these types of cereal can absorb moisture fairly easily, meaning that they will also require a layer of coating and the appropriate type of packaging material to keep them from spoiling and to maintain their crispiness over time.
● Shredded Cereal Production
The most common type of grain used for shredded cereal is wheat. To make shredded cereal, the wheat is boiled in water to allow moisture to fully penetrate the grain. It will then be allowed to temper before being passed through two metal rollers. The difference between these rollers and those used in flaked cereal is that, while one roller is smooth, the other one is grooved. There’s also a metal comb positioned against the grooved roller, which has a tooth inside each groove. The grain is shredded by these teeth as it passes through. The result is a continuous ribbon that will be cut to the appropriate size and baked until the right color and dryness are achieved.
It’s important for the cooked wheat to temper for up to 24 hours before shredding, as this allows the moisture to even out and the cereal to harden from starch retrogradation. If it’s not allowed to temper for long enough, the shredded wheat will be too gummy and sticky for further processing.
● Granola Production
Granola is made by mixing grain and other ingredients, such as nuts, dried fruits, seeds, honey, malt extract, different flavors, etc., and cooking them as a mix. Unlike other types of cereal, granola also needs oil in the mix to allow the other ingredients to stick together. This process is known as agglomeration. The mixture will be cooked at temperatures between 300º to 425ºF to achieve a light browning and a moisture content of around 3%. Around 5% of inulin (a prebiotic fiber) and other carbohydrates may also be added to help with the binding. Once the cooking and drying processes are complete, the granola will be broken up into chunks.
After the initial processing phase, some cereals may be sprayed with a layer of coating with sweeteners, flavors, food coloring, preservatives, vitamins, and/or minerals. The commonly-used sugar coating in most cereals combines a sugar formula and application method that ensures the sugar crystals have the right color, flavor, size, and structure when dry. Beet or cane sugar is typically used as a coating, but brown sugar or honey can also partially replace white sugar. Adding oil can also help prevent clumping.
Aside from making the cereal sweet, sugar coatings also provide an additional layer between the milk and cereal, thus prolonging their crispiness. Adding different starches, such as dextrin or maltodextrin, to the cereal’s surface will help improve storage stability without adding sweetness to the overall taste. High-fructose corn syrup and crystalline fructose, on the other hand, can be used to provide additional sweetness and adhering properties for dry flavor-bit applications. In sweetened cereals, the coating’s visibility will also add some level of appeal to the consumer. As such, the coating can account for up to 50% of the cereal’s weight.
Packaging and Quality Control
While some cereals, such as shredded wheat, are fairly resistant to spoilage from moisture and can be placed directly in a cardboard box, most other cereals will need to be packaged in airtight and waterproof plastic bags. These are also placed in cardboard boxes to protect them from spoiling. Current trends indicate that customers today are more focused on flexible packaging and sustainable materials. Traditionally, rigid plastics, such as polypropylene, polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polyamide, or ethylene-vinyl alcohol, have been used in breakfast cereal packaging. However, more cereal manufacturing businesses are starting to look towards more sustainable materials, such as plant-based packaging.
More convenient packaging options are also being considered such as resealable, flexible, and stand-up bags. These options tend to remove the need for the traditional cardboard box and reduce the overall volume of packaging as a whole. Single-serve pouches are also a trend that’s worth keeping an eye on.
Quality Control in Breakfast Cereal Production
Like with all other food production industries, the breakfast cereal production process needs to be carefully monitored for quality and sanitation. This means that the equipment used should be cleaned and sterilized regularly, while the grain should be inspected for any foreign matter as soon as it arrives in the factory. The temperature and moisture content should also be monitored constantly during the manufacturing process, as well as the quality of the stored cereal.
The processing of cereal needs to be constantly inspected for any signs of microbial growth. The most common microorganisms to watch out for include Salmonella, fungi, Aspergillus, Penicillium, spore-forming bacteria, and Fusarium. Some of these molds will produce mycotoxins, which can cause severe illness or even death. While mold contamination in raw cereal grains cannot be prevented entirely, microbial growth can be controlled if sanitary manufacturing practices and equipment are used.
It’s important to keep in mind that, while microbial growth can be halted when heat is applied, there is the possibility of later contamination when other ingredients, such as sweeteners, coloring, flavorings, preservatives, vitamins, minerals, and other additives, are added. Transferring the product between different areas of production can also pose a high risk of contamination (from heating to drying, to coating, and to packaging).
Traditionally, cereal producers have used bucket elevators, flat-bed conveyors, aeromechanical devices, augers, or pneumatic conveyors to transport their cereal from one area of the facility to another. However, most of these conveyor belt systems have issues with cross-contamination, long downtimes, and maintenance periods. Tubular drag cable conveyors, on the other hand, were proven to eliminate many of these risks and inefficiencies.
According to Gary Schliebs, Process Engineer at Plus One-Percent Engineered Solutions, “More and more breakfast cereal processors are looking at using this tubular drag conveyor technology right from the initial mixing phase to the blender, then into an extruder. Some major manufacturers are also implementing the system even further downstream, from their extruder to their coating system and through to their packing line. Here is a system that they can go with all the way – an end-to-end package solution that fits perfectly from a cleaning perspective and from an enclosed system point of view, and the risk is absolutely minimal from a contamination or hygiene issue.”
In other words, tubular drag conveyor systems will be able to integrate with an existing cereal production process, transporting cereal without the issue of contamination or product damage. This is also coupled with easy cleaning and quick changeovers, far outpacing any other type of conveyor system used in cereal production.