Confectionery systems have served as a means to deliver cough suppressants, vitamins, herbs, and a host of medicinal ingredients for many years. We now see THC and CBD gummies, chocolate, caramels, and infused beverages. And this market appears to be growing at a rapid rate as more states approve both medical and adult use marijuana.
There are several factors unique to the edibles industry. Most notable among them, legal issues on the federal level, restrictions of sales across state lines, and individual state enforcement rules regarding assay, presentation, packaging, etc. While this serves to better control the market in its infancy, it also poses challenges for manufacturing.
Confections are generally inexpensive, in and of themselves. Corn syrup and sugar are relatively cheap ingredients, and industrial confectionery equipment lines are primarily designed for high volume production. This combination provides an array of candy available to the masses at a low price point.
The opposite is true with edibles. The active ingredient is expensive, and production is measured in pieces per day versus pounds (or tons) per hour. Continuous cooking lines and starch moguls, for example, are not practical for small scale production and may not provide for batch record-keeping as required by enforcement agencies.
When scaling up from prototyping to production, sometimes it helps to work “backwards.” Define a sales unit, and the number of units you need to produce per shift, and work the process “back” from there. As you consider each step of the process, make sure there is a match in capacity as you transition from piece of equipment to another, or from one step in the process to another.