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Potato Wafers and Chips

General Overview
In India around 12 million tonnes of potato is grown which is about 4% of the total world production. However, the per capita consumption of potatoes is low. Potato is probably the most popular food item in the Indian diet. It is grown all over the country with Uttar Pradesh growing the maximum quantity. Potato is a very rich source of starch. It also contains phosphorus, calcium, iron and some vitamins.

It is estimated that 25% of the potatoes, which are spoiled due to various reasons such as transportation, type of packing, non-availability of cold storage capacities during harvesting season, glut in the market etc., could be saved by making various preserved potato products. Potato wafers and chips are one such products. Potato wafers and chips are thin slices of potato, fried quickly in oil and then salted

 

A Brief History of Potato Wafers and Chips
According to snack food folklore, the potato chips and the wafers were the fanciful creation of a certain chef called George Crum. He apparently invented it in 1853 in his restaurant - Moon's Lake House in Saratoga Spring, New York. The urban legend goes like this that George Crum was angered when a customer returned his french fried potatoes to the kitchen for being too thick, Crum shaved them paper thin and sent the plate back out. And thus came it being the Potato Chips and Wafers.

Market Potential of Potato Wafers and Chips
Potato Wafers and Chips are one of the most celebrated in the Ready To Eat munchies market, relished in almost all the parts of the world. They serve as an appetizer, side dish, or snack.

 
In India it is being produced not only on large scale by big firms, but also on cottage/home scale in semi-urban and rural areas. Owing to this, there is a number of companies from both the organized as well as unorganized sector who are already catering to the needs of tea stalls, restaurants, railway stations, tourist places etc. Still there is a huge demand to be met for these products in interior and remote places in different parts of the country.

 

There exists consumer as well as bulk markets for potato wafers and chips even in far flung rural areas owing primarily to the following reasons:-

  • Rapid urbanisation and improving standards of living
  • Easy availability
  • Convenient packaging
  • Affordable prices
  • Nutritious values
 

Though there exists some international as well as national brands but majority of the market base is under the control of local manufacturers. With proper strategy and network, it is possible to penetrate the market.

Potato chips show no sign of declining in popularity. However, the public's increased demand for low-fat foods has put manufacturers on a fast track to produce a reduced-calorie chip that pleases the palate as well.

Equipments Used In The Production Process
For the production of good quality chips, the potatoes should have less sugar content. Whenever, cold stored potatoes are to be used for chips making, those potatoes should be brought to the room temperature and be used only after 24-48 hours.

The equipments and gadgets used for the above processing are easily available locally and they include potato slicer, peeler, blancher made of aluminium or stainless steel, dehydrator, deep fat frier, basket sieve, pouch sealing machine and weighing scale.

 

The Manufacturing Process
The simplest chips of the kind that are just cooked and salted, but manufacturers can add a wide variety of seasonings of herbs, spices, cheese or artificial additives. Potato wafers must be manufactured in a scientific manner and under hygienic conditions. The production process mainly comprises of the following steps:-

  • Washing and Peeling - Fully grown and ripe potatoes are firstly thoroughly washed before peeling them with the help of a peeler. Then these potatoes are trimmed and put in brine water for 30-35 minutes to prevent browning
  • Slicing and Blanching - Afterwards they are cut in the required sizes on slicing machine. These slices are blanched in boiling water
  • Drying and Frying - Then the blanched potatoes are placed on drying trays which are then put in the drying machine. Temperature of dryer is maintained in the range of 140 to 150O F. After drying, they are fried in edible oil to make them crisp and brown.
  • Packaging - The fried potato wafers are then kept on the sieve to remove excess of oil, cooled and other ingredients like salts, spicy mixture is sprayed as per required taste. Cooled potato wafers are then packed in polythene bag.
 

Quality Control Process

  • Preventing breakage must be a primary goal of the producer and to ensure minimum breakage companies should install safeguards at various points of the production process
  • The color is compared to charts that show acceptable chip colors across the processed food industry norms
  • The quality inspectors should also check the chips for salt, seasoning, moisture, color, and overall flavor.


Popular Flavors of Potato Wafers and Chips
Over the years potato wafers and chips have continued to evolved, with a steady increase in kinds of flavors. Few of the most popular flavors across the world are as follows:-

  1. Plain
  2. Ready Salted
  3. Salt and Pepper
  4. Salt  and Vinegar
  5. Worcestershire Sauce
  6. Tomato Sauce (ketchup flavor)
  7. Sour Cream and Onion
  8. Barbecue
  9. Kimchi
 10. Garlic
 11. Chili
 12. Chicken.

Global Perspective for Potato Wafers and Chips
The rise of the 'snacking' phenomenon is now fairly well documented on an international scale, although the rate and extent of development do vary from country to country. With the breakdown of formal meals, consumers are increasingly tending to eat a number of smaller snacks during the day rather than three full meals. Furthermore, in an increasingly fast paced financially well-off society there is growing demand for snacks that are easy to buy, store and eat, with an increasing number being eaten 'on the move'. With this background, the potato wafers and chips market seems to hold good growth prospects. According snack market analysis, potato chips account for an average of 35% of the total savory snacks market.

Wish Chip
A wish chip is any potato wafer or chip that has somehow become folded in half during the production process. It is so believed by some in different parts of the world that if you make a wish while having such a half folded wafer then it is granted. The ritual involves of fitting the whole chip in one's mouth and then chewing it either before, after or while the wish is made, the timing and manner in which the wish is made is highly variable and changes from region to region.

 
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