Monday, February 24, 2014

Peanut butter pretzel saga

Maxim Marketing is suing Trader Joe's and Conagra, after Trader Joe's went to Conagra as supplier for its peanut butter pretzels. Maxim was a middle man, getting the pretzels from Conagra and than sellng to Trader Joe's. The legal theories of Maxim are antitrust violations and breach of contract. There is an issue about disclosure of confidential information.

See Sticky situation: Trader Joe's sued over peanut butter pretzel 'monopoly'

From within the post Pretzel Supplier Alleges Twisted Tale

“They were working on co-extrusion with pretzels, which was unheard of at that time,” he said. “I didn’t know of anyone other than an outfit in Germany that was doing that.”

Co-extrusion is a process by which multiple layers of a food product are processed simultaneously. Visualize a pipe within a pipe, the outer one pumping out pretzel dough, the inner one pumping out a filling. The idea that Max Reisman, Reisman’s president, had was to pump out a strip of filled pretzel dough on a mechanized belt, slice it up and bake the pieces in the plant’s massive 100-foot ovens.

But there were challenges. The filling had to have enough liquidity to be pumped, but if it held too much water, the product would disintegrate. Adding oil instead would introduce a possible fire hazard if it seeped out.

Several fillings were experimented with before a peanut butter mixture with peanut oil was chosen. There were other pitfalls. If the pretzel was too thin or the filling too liquid, the product would explode.

“We had blowouts,” Kroll said. “If you really want to see a plant manager mad, get him to clean up a 100-foot oven full of peanut butter. We had to work and work on that.”

Also brought in on the project was Bruce Gutterman, a peanut butter expert in Kingston, Pa., who pioneered the introduction of peanut butter flavors into ice cream in the 1970s, and had become the go-to guy for pourable peanut butter.

--Merely fyi

US 6,386,097, System and method for filling a nugget transported on a conveyor ; also US 6,468,572

US 6,863,911, Bakeable, lubricious, sweet, creamy, low-moisture filler products and process for preparation



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