National Potato Chip Day: the trends with added ‘a-peel’
It’s National Potato Chip Day on 14 March, and we’ll make any excuse to celebrate one of our favourite savoury snacks! A fast-paced category, there has been plenty of innovation in recent years, paving the way for some exciting developments. Here, we look at the latest trends in potato chips – or crisps as our British friends call them – and what this means for snack food manufacturers.
Go bold or go home
Consumers are not shying away from bold, spicy flavours in 2020, driven by an increasing exposure to other cultures and an inevitable novelty factor. We’ve come a long way since the traditional cheese and onion variety; now manufacturers are experimenting with variations including ingredients like wasabi, horseradish or Thai chilli, to take consumers on a ‘food adventure’. Potatoes are a blank canvas for a whole host of different flavours, allowing manufacturers to use them as a vehicle for the latest up-and-coming food ingredient trends.
It can be difficult, however, to switch seamlessly between flavour varieties on the production line. Flexibility is key in modern seasoning and packaging equipment. For instance, operators need to be able to make quick flavour changes, alter recipes, change pack sizes, etc. to keep up with production quotas. In fact, the latest in on-machine seasoning (OMS) equipment allows one production line to feed several OMS systems, meaning that multiple flavours can be applied at any one time. In addition, with several systems running at the same time, it offers manufacturers the flexibility for one system to be cleaned for product changeovers, without stopping production altogether.
A world of health benefits
Health and wellness are not traditionally associated with potato chips, but in 2020 we see the rise of healthier varieties of our favourite savoury snack. With more consumers proactively looking for ways to improve their health, high-quality, nutritious ingredients are at the top of everyone’s agenda. Snack food manufacturers are therefore innovating with different oils, such as those made with high-oleic seeds, for a healthier alternative without losing any robust flavours.
Consumers are also becoming more aware of the benefits of the varied manufacturing techniques that will give their snacks a healthier ‘halo’. Better informed than ever, they are on the look-out for any unwanted additions, such as acrylamide, a potentially carcinogenic substance which is common when frying potatoes at high temperatures. A number of techniques has been developed to successfully reduce the levels of acrylamide in fried products, as well as create products lower in saturated and trans fats. These include pre-processing techniques, such as blanching and pulsed electric field (PEF) technology, as well as innovative frying equipment, including multi-stage, vacuum and batch frying. If you feel inspired and want to learn more about these cutting-edge techniques, check out our white paper! http://bit.ly/2W2H2xx
When it comes to the crunch
Texture is everything when it comes to potato chips, and bigger is better in 2020, with extra-thick varieties gaining traction with choosy consumers. Thanks to increasing competition from chips made from ingredients like chickpeas and lentils, thicker, wavy shapes are replacing more delicate, homecooked varieties as the snack of choice. A crunchy texture, described as ‘glassy’ or ‘hard’, is often associated with high quality, premium-style products, and is a desirable characteristic for today’s discerning consumers.
Batch frying is one technique which allows manufacturers to cater to consumer demand. By frying at a lower temperature for longer, the moisture within the slices starts to boil. The boiling effect opens up the structure within the cells, and as the product dries toward the end of the process, the structure strengthens and becomes hard. This structure creates the well-known ‘crunch’ or ‘bite’ consumers associate with batch-fried chips.
What’s next for potato chips?
The trend for bold flavours isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, but as concerns about climate change grow, we may see manufacturers reaching for more environmentally-friendly ingredients, such as cricket protein. Coming soon to shelves near you!
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