How sweet it is!

September 5, 2007
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Larger roasters help processor meet increase in product demand.

Wolverine Proctor Compak Model 2500 roaster is fed cashews from totes (top right) and nuts emerge on the other end (inset).

Nuts! And lots of them. While the Warrell Corporation in Camp Hill, PA, makes some hard candies, nut-based confectionaries are its specialty.  The company has its own retail brands, Katherine Beecher and Pennsylvania Dutch Candies, but concentrates on contract manufacturing. In 2006, Warrell produced more than 500 individual new-product development sample shipments to customers and processed more than 25 million lbs. of candy.

When the company moved to its current 200,000-sq.-ft. location to start up one of the largest panning operations in the US, it was time to stop buying roasted nuts from suppliers.

 “When we moved here, we expanded our panning, which is our number one sales operation,” says Rich Warrell, marketing manager. “Then we put in the continuous brittle line, so our volume went from 100,000 lbs. a year to 600,000 lbs. per year. Now we’re roasting 2.75 million pounds per year.” At full capacity, the company has a throughput of up 11 million pounds per year.

Warrell management decided to go with Compak 2000 and 2500 gas-fired dry roasters from Wolverine Proctor instead of oil-based or other types of roasters. In addition to the health benefits of roasting without oil, there are production benefits. The biggest is timing, says Ron Stadnicki, operations manager. “An oil-roasted nut needs time for the oil to incorporate itself before going into the panning process. You can’t attempt to take a fresh oil-roasted nut and get it under chocolate-plus you have bloom issues. Therefore, there is a 24-hour minimum waiting period before you can apply the chocolate.”

By using dry roasters, the nuts are cooled to an ambient temperature and coated with chocolate in less than 30 minutes.

There are other benefits to dry roasting. Stadnicki says oil roasters are much more difficult to clean, and the liquid waste can pose environmental problems. When it comes to health issues, Stadnicki says it’s much easier to calculate fat contents because the only fat is the naturally occurring oil in the nut, and not the added roasting oils. Not using oils also makes it easy to label products as “all natural” and helps minimize allergen problems.

The Compak 2000 roaster is dedicated to peanuts full time, helping to minimize peanut allergens issues. The other roaster, the Compak 2500, processes cashews, pistachios, walnuts and just about any other tree nut imaginable. Stadnicki says both roasters are now operating continuously on two shifts. 

“These machines require very little maintenance,” Stadnicki said. “It’s a very simple process with very few moving parts.”

For more information:

Paul E. Smith, 215-443-5200,

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