Van Geloven: Lots of cheese, good crust, little dust
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Van Geloven: Lots of cheese, good crust, little dust

  • 11 September 2023
  • By: Janneke Vermeulen

A tasty snack is partly characterized by a nice crispy crust. But applying a good, even breadcrumb layer while limiting dust formation and waste is no easy task. Van Geloven Cuijk therefore purchased the latest CrumbMaster.

Upon entering the production plant of Van Geloven Cuijk (formerly Swinkels), you immediately smell: cheese is being worked on here. “Today we are making souflesse. About 20,000 roll off the conveyor belt every hour,” says Franc Trilsbeek, team leader at the company. Souflesse is the cheese soufflé brand of snack manufacturer Van Geloven. The brand is part of McCain Foods, the global market leader in frozen foods. The factory in Cuijk is the production location for the souflesse. Here, various versions of the snack are made, including cheese, ham cheese, tomato mozzarella, spicy and mini. Franc: “We make various puff pastry products, such as frikandel, cheese, sausage, and salmon pastries. But the souflesse cheese is the frontrunner; last year, more than five million went out the door to wholesalers and snack bars domestically and abroad.”

Crispy crust

The souflesse was developed in 2008 with the mission to introduce a cheese soufflé to the market that has a better ratio of cheese to dough and really tastes like cheese. The souflesse has a wavy shape, extra cheese in the filling, and a thin and crispy crust. To provide this crust, the snacks in the factory are given a breadcrumb layer. A delicate moment in the production process, says Franc: “Before we can apply the breadcrumbs, the product gets a protein layer. If a lot of excess protein remains on the product, the breadcrumbs get contaminated and you have to throw it away. Moreover, crumb-breakage is a risk. This results in an uneven product, which of course fries and eats less nicely. Another point of attention is the dust that is released when working with breadcrumbs: unpleasant for everything nearby, including our employees."

All three of the mentioned challenges became more and more prevalent at the production plant. Franc: “In addition, we increasingly faced malfunctions. Understandably, because our breadcrumb machine was one from the 80s - refurbished in 1993. It has served excellently for years, but was at the end of its life. So, we started a conversation with GEA.” As it happened, GEA Food Solutions, a manufacturer of machinery for the food industry, had just developed a new CrumbMaster and was looking for a test location. The new machine was installed in the Brabant factory earlier this year and was so satisfactory that it was kept in place.

Marcel van den Heuvel en Franc Trilsbeek

Barely any dust

The breadcrumb line - the last production moment before the freezer - consists of a protein machine, complete with BatterMixer which automatically refills this protein machine, and the breadcrumb machine. Marcel van den Heuvel, Senior Area Salesmanager at GEA, explains: “In the CrumbMaster, the breadcrumbs are transported with a lifting screw and conveyor belt to create a bottom and top layer of breadcrumbs. The machine presses the crumbs onto the product. The excess breadcrumbs are blown off, but remain in the machine. This releases very little dust. Also, the excess protein is removed, which results in less contaminated breadcrumbs and reduced waste.”

Franc is very pleased with the (almost) dust-free work environment: “Safety is an important theme within our company, and a clean work environment is also part of that. Cleaning is much easier with this machine. We regularly switch products and also breadcrumbs: we have a red variant for the tomato-mozzarella, a crumb with small pieces of cheese for ham-cheese, and the coarseness varies per type of breadcrumb. The new CrumbMaster has far fewer small corners, making it quick to clean. And because little dust is released, we don't have to clean wet as often; a big advantage in this dry production environment.”

Control The Crumb: GEA CrumbMaster Gen 2 | Crumb coating machine

More evenly covered

The crumb-breakage has also clearly reduced since the new machine started operating. As evidence, Franc places two souflesses next to each other, one made by the old machine and one by the new: “Another advantage is that the souflesses made by the new machine are more evenly covered with breadcrumbs.” What about malfunctions? “Almost none, we keep running smoothly.” Marcel adds: “The new machine can produce up to thirty meters per hour. The bottleneck for that speed is mainly in the freezer and the packaging line that follows.”

Franc expects that the production of the souflesses in the factory will be increased in the coming years - provided the rest of the production line can handle it, of course. The ambition is certainly there. “The demand for vegetarian products has of course been growing for years. From Van Geloven, we are responding to this with various innovations. Thanks to the new CrumbMaster, we are fully prepared for it.”

Photos ©Cor Salverius

Source: Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2023