The Secrets brand, made by family-owned Swiss firm Zweifel Pomy-Chips, scooped third place at ISM’s new product showcase awards, staving off competition from 110 other new products. Visitors voted at the Cologne show last week for products they considered ‘most innovative’.
The beetroot chip mix is made using a patented, two-step air drying process which helps lock in color, flavor and texture. First the vegetables are air dried from the outside in using conventional methods and then from the inside out by a microwave vacuum.
The Secrets line includes two veggie chip products – beetroot and tomato – alongside two regular seasoned chip products.
Bettina Frey-Ammann, head of export at Zweifel Pomy-Chip, said the premium snack would be the company’s ticket to growth beyond Switzerland, where the company holds a 50-60% market share.
“Potato chips everywhere have a different taste, it’s also a matter of choice but this is something that has an added value – it has a factor that we think can reach other people. It’s a very important line to take further and we have a lot of innovations in the pipeline,” she said.
She said the goal was to double exports – currently less than 5% – within five years. “We hope to export it anywhere – the field is open.”
Look, taste and feel
Frey-Ammann said the chips were different to other veggie options on the market because of the processing.
“We don’t fry the vegetables, we air dry them which means the product is healthier because there is less fat and the crunchiness and color is better. The vegetables retain their characteristic aroma, full taste, color and utmost crispness,” she said.
The air-drying is conducted by a co-manufacturer but Zweifel’s R&D team work closely with the firm, experimenting constantly with alternative vegetables, she said.
“It’s a challenge to produce them because of the taste. Carrots, for example, don’t taste of anything afterwards – they look good, feel good but don’t taste of anything. It’s a very difficult process to find other vegetables that work.”
Asked if there were plans to bring the patented process in-house, she said: “At the moment we have enough capacity over there and it’s not plan B.” Should demand outpace capacity because of a growth in exports, she said it would be a “good problem” to address.