Our Industry
Potatoes originated in South America where the inhabitants of the area we now call Peru and Chile cultivated the root vegetable or ‘papas’ for food more than 2000 years ago. It is reported that they also placed raw potato slices on broken bones, carried them to prevent rheumatism, and ate them with other foods to prevent indigestion.

The most popular legend on how potatoes made their way across the Atlantic involves the Spanish conquistadors and such famous adventurers as Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake, who introduced the potato into Europe on their return from their sea voyages around 1567. Over the following years potatoes spread quickly across the globe and today they are the fourth largest food crop in the world

The Potato Chip

Potato crisps / crisps, invented over 160 years ago, have long been one the world’s favourite type of savoury snack. The recipe for the classic potato chip / crisp has changed little over the decades and, although today the process is automated and on a much larger scale, a potato chip / crisp is still basically a fresh potato, delicately sliced, lightly fried in vegetable oils and then sprinkled with flavouring.

It is widely agreed that potato chips / crisps were first made in 1853 by a Native American chef, George Crum, at the fashionable Moon's Lake House hotel in Saratoga Springs, New York. The railway magnate Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt who was an extremely discriminating customer complained that his chips were not sliced thinly enough and repeatedly sent them back to the kitchen. Upset that someone would criticize his cooking, Crum sliced a new batch of potatoes paper-thin, fried them in boiling oil to a crisp, and then salted them.

Crum’s joke backfired however and as a result the “Saratoga slices” or potato chips / crisps were a resounding success. It was not long before Saratoga Chips could be found in restaurants up and down the East Coast. Soon they became known as potato chips (crisps in the UK).
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Many other popular savoury snacks are produced by a variety of methods. One such method is known as 'extrusion'.

Corn curls were invented in the USA in the early 1930s. These are puffed corn snacks, often cheese flavoured with a light crunch, great taste and melt in the mouth experience. They may be ball shaped, curly, straight or irregularly shaped. Some are even shaped as animals or other objects. In the extrusion process, ground corn (alone or in combination with potato, rye, wheat, rice, etc) is transformed into a plasticised dough using heat, pressure, and shear before being squeezed through a small shaped opening, expanding as it exits into soft, light pieces which are then baked in the oven to make them crisp. Flavouring is then added, with a little oil, before the product is packed.

Shaped, pellet snacks are made from dehydrated potato, corn and wheat flour or mixtures of these and other ingredients. Some favourite snacks of this type you may be familiar with are prawn crackers, and different shaped snacks such as hoops, sticks, noughts and crosses, monster shapes, and even chicken drum sticks and heart shaped snacks. These snacks are produced as stable semi-manufactured pellets which later can then be lightly fried in vegetable oil or hot air to expand them, before flavouring and packing.

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Tortilla chips are made from milled corn mixed into dough, rolled into a sheet and cut into shapes, often triangles.These are toasted, lightly fried and flavoured to produce crunchy golden corn chips.

Baked snacks are made from potato, corn, wheat flour or mixtures of these and other ingredients such as starch. Although 'corn curls' can be called a baked snack, this latter term is generally used for products which are produced from an extruded sheet of dough which is then cut and dried making the finished product a lower fat product. A small amount of oil is usually added to the product before it is flavoured and packaged.
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Pretzels are produced from dough, made from the finest wheat flour, and shaped into the classic pretzel shape and baked. Other pretzel products are also available, e.g. filled pretzels, pretzel splits, etc.

Popcorn was eaten by the ancient Inca and Peruvian civilizations from around 300AD. Special varieties of corn are grown for popcorn, and popcorn is classified as a ‘puffed snack’.

Raw corn kernels are converted directly through a heated cooking process (i.e. oil, air or expansion [microwave]) into the finished product. Tasty popcorn products can either be savoury or sweet.
Snack nuts are becoming increasingly popular as consumers look for more and more for healthy snacking options. To meet everyone’s taste and preference, the savoury snacks industry is responding to consumer demand for healthier, flavourful snack nut choices, offering a wide variety of options: roasted with or without any added fat, flavoured, coated, used in mixes, etc.

By far the most prominent snack nut is the peanut (or groundnut). Its history is a journey from South America, to Asia, east across the Atlantic and back again to North America. It is believed that peanuts originated in South America from around 300BC and today they are grown primarily in India, China, USA, Africa and Argentina. Technically the peanut is not actually a nut, but a legume, similar in character to the pea or bean plants.

The peanut was not used as a food for humans until the Civil War in the US when both Northern and Southern troops used them as a food source during hard times. In the 1870s, P.T. Barnum started using hot roasted peanuts as snack food in his renowned circus. Peanuts were soon being sold at all types of public events. Peanuts truly entered the commercial snack world in 1906 as Amedo Obici, an Italian emigrant to the United States developed a process for commercially roasting shelled peanuts in oil. Today they are available as roasted, dry roasted and coated varieties.

There are many other kinds of snack nuts readily available such as almonds, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, macadamias, and brazil nuts.
Their origins are detailed in the table below:
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Almonds Australia, Spain, USA
Brazil nuts Bolivia, Brazil, Peru
Cashews Africa, Brazil, India, Vietnam
Hazelnuts Italy, Spain, Turkey, USA
Macadamias Africa, Australia, USA
Pecans Africa, Argentina, China, India, Nicaragua, USA
Pistachios Iran, Turkey, USA
Walnuts Chile, China, France, Georgia, USA, Uzbekistan

It is widely recognised that regular consumption of nuts can form part of a healthy, balanced diet. Nuts are an important source of nutrients, including dietary fibre, copper, iron, magnesium, and potassium, as well as many important minerals and vitamins. Please read here facts about nuts - Nuts (EN)(DE)(ES)

There are numerous scientific studies outlining the beneficial effects of nuts on the human body and health. The most recent ones include:

- 'Nut consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer in women' by Bao, Hu, Giovannucci, et al published in the British Journal of Cancer; the authors of the study reported that consumption of nuts – including tree nuts such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts – was found to be inversely associated with risk of pancreatic cancer, independent of other potential risk factors for pancreatic cancer;

- PREDIMED project: results highlight the connection between nut consumption and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in the European population. The study shows that: consuming 1 to 2 servings of nuts per week (1 serving = 28 g) reduced risk of cardiovascular and cancer mortality by 29%; those consuming more than 3 servings per week reduced the risk by 39% compared to those who were not consuming nuts.


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