Potato Snacks – New Directions or More of the Same?29 Jul 2013
Efforts to innovate in increasingly competitive markets have resulted in increasing segmentation and blurring of traditional definitions in many food and drinks markets. While the consumer does not really care about this – only seeing a growing choice of formats – it may lead to difficulties with definition and research in some instances. The […]
Efforts to innovate in increasingly competitive markets have resulted in increasing segmentation and blurring of traditional definitions in many food and drinks markets. While the consumer does not really care about this – only seeing a growing choice of formats – it may lead to difficulties with definition and research in some instances.
The savoury snacks market, for example, continues to be difficult to define in the face of ongoing innovation that adds new categories and hybrids to the sector on a fairly regular basis. Some of these do not fall squarely into any one existing sub-category.
Potato-based snacks – called chips in most countries, but crisps in the UK – are the largest single category of the market in many territories, led by the US and the UK; definition issues here are becoming increasingly complex. The sector has long faced a question of whether potato snacks should be included in the chips/crisps market if they are not made with pure sliced potatoes. That would leave extruded and formed lines – perhaps most notably the stacked chips sector pioneered and dominated by Pringles, now part of Kellogg – sometimes categorised in the chips market, and sometimes not.
The arrival of another completely new type of snack in recent years – popped chips – has further complicated the issue. Made with potato flakes or pieces, popped chips are turned into crisps using heat and pressure, and are marketed as a guilt-free alternative to standard fried and baked products. The original Popchips potato-based brand was launched in the US in 2007 and saw sales more than double in 2011 to over USD30m. It claimed to represent the fastest growth rate among the top 50 snack brands over that year.
Following on from this success, popped chips arrived in Europe in 2012, with the UK launch of Popchips in March, featuring individual and sharing bags in five flavours. Again, these were promoted on their innovative production process and the fact that there were fewer than 100 calories in a single-serve bag.
The situation was further complicated with the arrival of another popped product. Promoted on a weight management positioning, Kellogg’s Special K Cracker Chips were introduced in the US in 2011. The launch moved the Special K cereals brand into savoury snacks for the first time, as well as moving it further out of the breakfast category and into the all-day convenience snacks sector.
The chips, claimed by Kellogg’s to have delivered 18% growth to its savoury snacks portfolio in the North America, were introduced in the UK as Special K Cracker Crisps in 2012. Made with potato, tapioca and wheat and in sea salt and balsamic vinegar, sweet chilli and sour cream and chive variants, the sour cream and chive is the only flavour duplicated from the US range, which also features sea salt, cheddar, honey barbecue and southwest ranch options.
And, even as I write, another new type of potato snack product is being introduced in the US. This time, it is bridging the gap between French fries and potato chips/crisps and is inspired by the foodservice sector. PepsiCo’s Fritolay’s Ruffles brand is being used for new Crispy Fries Potato Strips, which are claimed to be the first-ever French-fry-shaped snacks sliced from real potatoes. Launched in time for National French Fry Day in the US on July 13, the product claims to bring the French fry experience to life, including the shape, taste and crunchy texture. They are packaged for convenient on-the-go snacking, but can also be microwaved for a ‘straight-from-the-diner’ flavour.
One of the reasons that potato-based snacks are seeing so many new formats is the competition from other types of ingredients. Ongoing innovation in the snacks market has resulted in a growing range of ingredients and flavours being used, often in increasingly complex formulations. A review of recent new product activity by Innova Market Insights reveals that while potatoes, corn, wheat and soya continue to be key ingredients in snack foods, an increasing range of basic raw materials are now appearing as alternatives – either simply to add variety, or to give a healthier image, or even to allow gluten-free claims. Launches have included bread chips, pita chips, plantain chips, cassava chips and sweet potato chips, as well as products featuring a whole range of non-traditional ingredients in the form of different vegetables, including parsnips, beetroot and sweet potato, seeds and pulses.
Meanwhile, the traditional potato chips sector, featuring slices of potato, is continuing to develop, with ridge-cut products, hand-cooked ‘kettle’ lines and a raft of increasingly strong and complex flavours. These also have a perhaps somewhat contradictory focus on simplicity and naturalness of the product, including the use of just three ingredients – potatoes, oil and salt – in some instances. At the same time, there appears to be a growing focus on local ingredients and flavours on the one hand, and options based on international cuisines on the other.
Keeping a foot in both camps, launches by UK premium crisps company Burts over the past year or so have included flavours such as wasabi steak, spicy chorizo and Lincolnshire sausage and mustard. Rival company Tyrrells has launched a number of limited edition lines based on particular occasions, including beach barbecue flavoured with smoked paprika, tomato, cumin, cayenne and garlic and Cricket Tea crisps, featuring ham, cheese and tomato seasoned crisps in one bag. In France, Sibell has developed a range of unusual and upmarket flavours, adding typically French foie gras, bouillabaisse, bleu-noix and poivres lines to its existing range of truffle and wasabi variants.
Other interesting examples over the past year or so include Shamrock and Sour Cream chips in Ireland and Red, White and Blue crisps from Tyrrells in the UK which feature a patriotic mix of Highland Burgundy Red, White Lady Claire and Salad Blue potatoes to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Meanwhile, looking forward, Intersnack’s funny-frisch brand in Germany already has an eye on the forthcoming Football World Cup in Brazil in 2014, launching three Brazilian-style flavour variants to the Chipsfrisch range and allowing consumers to vote for their favourite. The three variants are Grill de Brasil, Caipi Cabana and Salsa de Janeiro.
While the traditional potato chips/crisps market appears to be holding its own in the savoury snacks market – and indeed the snacks market as a whole – new types of product are continuing to appear, blurring definitions in the category as a whole. This is probably inevitable in the face of an increasingly competitive market place and the development of new technologies allowing the creation of a whole new raft of formats and flavours. It is, however, not necessarily a bad thing and has allowed the sector to continue to develop despite its relative maturity, a traditionally unhealthy image and growing competition from other savoury and sweet snack options. The consumer is continuing to see a growing range of formats for every occasion, offering something for everyone and the new and exciting alongside the favoured and familiar.
What role do omega-3s play in sports nutrition?
10 Jul 2018
Omega-3 fatty acids have increasingly become part of athletes’ nutritional regime over the past few years but research supporting their role in sports nutrition is still in its early stages.Read more
Could nature-identical ingredients damage the natural sweeteners market?
4 Jul 2018
Natural sweeteners are a major target for companies looking to make nature-identical food ingredients, but if they are produced in a lab rather than extracted from a plant, will consumers accept them as natural?Read more
How does honey compare to sugar?
27 Jun 2018
Sugar use is down and honey use is up as manufacturers look for natural sweetening alternatives – but does honey live up to the hype?Read more
Fruit and vegetable powders add clean label nutrition, colour and flavour
25 Jun 2018
Fruit and vegetable powders are appearing in a range of foods and drinks to improve their flavour, colour, nutrition and texture, driven by the trend toward whole foods and consumer desire to boost fruit and vegetable consumption.Read more
What are the smartest botanical ingredients for brain health?
20 Jun 2018
As the population ages, botanical ingredients to maintain and improve cognitive health are on the rise. What are they, and what evidence is there to support their claims?Read more
Turning a spotlight on healthy fats and oils
19 Jun 2018
European food manufacturers have been turning to healthier oils and fats – but there is often a trade-off to be made, balancing their benefits in terms of flavour and health with how easy they are to work with.Read more
Beyond ingredients: Food processing as a tool for cleaner labels
12 Jun 2018
Ingredients come first when companies think about developing clean label foods and drinks, but certain processing technologies also should be considered part of the clean label toolbox.Read more
Plant-based eating boosts European walnut demand
12 Jun 2018
The current trend toward plant-based diets and wholesome, natural ingredients has led to increased European demand for walnuts, as consumers have become more aware of their health benefits.Read more
Europeans embrace a new wave of seaweed ingredients
6 Jun 2018
Seaweed ingredients are on the rise, set to appear in a wide range of new products in Europe in the coming years – far beyond the traditional sushi and miso soup.Read more
How clean label ingredients affect packaging
28 May 2018
When companies consider ‘cleaning up’ their product labels, they often focus primarily on how to remove or replace certain ingredients – but they should also consider implications for product packaging.Read more
Are you a supplier
Here's what we can do for you
- Generate quality leads for your business
- Stay visible for 365 days of the year
- Receive product inquiries and respond to meeting requests directly
- Improve company online presence through Search Engine Optimisation