Often at the request of food service and retail customers, bakers are switching from high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to more natural-sounding sweeteners.

“Many bakers are now looking at changing to a sugar liquefying system to take advantage of existing HFCS delivery systems already installed in the plant and piped to all points of use,” said Joseph Cross, process manager, Zeppelin Systems USA. “By creating liquid sugar from water and granulated sugar fed from a big bag or silo system, a plant can limit the expense of new conveying systems and the explosion protection systems typically associated with them.”

However, liquid sugar often requires additional sanitation measures beyond those used in typical HFCS systems. Jason Stricker, director of sales and marketing, Shick Esteve, pointed out that bakers may need to add ultraviolet sterilization to prevent microbial growth in an existing HFCS system.

“You’ll also need more frequent inspections to ensure you don’t have any microbial growth,” he said.

Darren Adams, vice-president of engineering, The Fred D. Pfening Co., noted that installing a sugar liquification system is a viable option, especially if a bakery already receives granular sugar.

“You just transfer it through our system to make liquid sugar,” he said. “You don’t have to pay to deliver the liquid part of it. You’re not paying to ship water, so there is an incredibly fast return on your investment.”

Other sweeteners such as tapioca, brown rice or invert syrups may require greater investments because of their viscosity and challenges in automatically handling them. But there are other concerns as well.

“The challenge with those is not only the sheer cost of the ingredient but also the availability of it,” Mr. Adams said.