Saturday, 9 April 2016

Hot salt parched snack pellets Vs fried snack pellets.

Frying is still the most common method universally  used to transform half products, such as snack pellets, into an edible savory or sweet snack. Despite being pretty high in fat, fried snack pellets contain up to 30 to 40% fat, which is lower than the fat in the traditional fried potato chipsWhat was initially a recommendation coming from health authorities and organisations around the world, that were aiming to decrease obesity among children as well as hearth diseases by reducing fat in their daily diet, has now become a free choice for many consumers who require a healthier snack that still maintains good taste, flavour and texture. During the last 20 years industries and professionals have tried to develop a valid alternative to frying so to reduce snacks fat content. Around the end of the 20th century, hot air temporary aroused some interest but what was initially considered an innovative method for popping snack pellets, and different cereals kernels, clashed against the relatively insufficient quality obtained using the hot air process. The main limitation for the hot air process to be considered as a valid alternative to frying is the very high air temperature required in order to deliver the right amount of heat to the snack pellets to expand properly. Another limitation is the difficulty assuring each single piece of products continuously and uniformly embed in the hot fluid, as it happens during frying. Usually the final result of an hot air expanded product, in particular with 3d snack pellets, is a wide shape variation caused by uneven expansion that produce a really dry mouth feeling when snacking

Nowadays another main concern is the amount of salt intake in everyday diet, especially when snacking often becomes an habit or a necessity. Nevertheless, this is the situation where the enemy can become a good ally. In fact, one of the most reliable and efficient way to pop snack pellets is using hot salt. Common salt, NaCl, properly heated and distributed can deliver an astonishing result when applied to snack pellets.  The latest technical and technological solutions in terms of heat exchange and salt handling transformed this ancient cooking method in one of the best solution to obtain a properly expanded and tasty savoury or sweet snack. Parched products are obtained reaching the same salt temperature as frying, 180 to 190 C or 356 to 374 F. Each single piece is well embedded in the hot salt as it is in a traditional frier, and it remains embedded for the same time too. The fine salt particle size allows a perfect heat exchange with the snack pellet or cereal kernels. When snacking a hot salt parched snack pellet, the feeling is pretty positive as it seems to snack on fried products, but just healthier. In fact, these hot salt parched snack pellets are not only flavoured with just 10% extra virgin olive oil but they can also  come in whatever flavour required by the snack base, which can be corn or rice or five different cereals or a mixture of cereals and potatoes ingredients. No sticking or gluing to mouth and tongue, no dry bitterness or off feeling like having a hot air expanded snack and, most of all, no salt increase in the final product! After the snack pellet is expanded, salt and final snack are duly and properly separated, long before flavouring and packing. Here just a few examples of parched products demonstrating that many different snack pellets shapes and formulation can be transformed into delicious and healthy snacks. Actually, I personally believe, the hot salt parched snacks should not be presented and promoted as healthier choices that are better for you, as in many case consumers tend to associate the word healthy with the word tasteless, which could lead them believe that these snacks are inedible snack. Instead, these products should be simply promoted and sold as a delicious snack. The label and the nutritional values should speak for themselves and should provide the consumer with the right information about the healthy product.

It is highly important to remember that expanding a snack pellet utilising hot salt is way easier than the complex frying process that involves heat exchanger and high levels of oil oxidation as well as oil disposal. In addition, it is significant to highlight the lower cost of NaCl units compared to frying oil ones.

Snack pellets technology and modernised ancient hot salt technology united can deliver a new boost toward a better snacking.

Samples of hot salt parched snacks can be delivered to those of you who might be interested in testing some delicious snacks, in this case just write me an mail with your request.

Watch a pilot unit delivering parched snack pellets and pop corns:  movie 1

Football Players - Cereals and potatoes - Hot Salt parched snack pellets - Fat Content: Just 10% Extra Virgin Olive oil added after puffing for flavoring purpose. 
Ghosts - Cereals and potatoes - Hot Salt parched snack pellets  - Fat Content: Just 10% Extra Virgin Olive oil added after puffing for flavoring purpose. 
3D Pillows - Corn and soft wheat - Hot Salt parched snack pellets  - Fat Content: Just 10% Extra Virgin Olive oil added after puffing for flavoring purpose. 

Waver - Soft wheat and potatoes - Hot Salt parched snack pellets  - Fat Content: Just 10% Extra Virgin Olive oil added after puffing for flavoring purpose. 

Puppies - Cereals and potatoes - Hot Salt parched snack pellets  - Fat Content: Just 10% Extra Virgin Olive oil added after puffing for flavoring purpose. 

Round grids - Soft wheat and potatoes - Hot Salt parched snack pellets  - Fat Content: Just 10% Extra Virgin Olive oil added after puffing for flavoring purpose. 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

A short overview of a snack pellets factory.

This movie shows some frames of a snack pellets factory where few different groups of snack pellets are produced.  Click on each title to see an example of products type.


1. Laminated potato based chips and pellets

Through this technology it is possible to obtain traditional flat chips, rippled chips or even fancy shapes. The precise control of the sheet thickness is very important in obtaining the maximum quality both in pelletized dry chips (for later frying) and wet fried products. This has been achieved by a double stage lamination system using rolls of optimum diameter. The extrusion under total vacuum allows to use a wide range of raw materials and to obtain products with suitable organoleptic characteristics.

2. Tridimensional pellets or 1

These new generation snacks are becoming more and more popular. technology ensures optimum product shape definition through the use of a precision system which controls sheet dimensions and rheological properties. The continuous process of cooking-extrusion, and the sheet thermal conditioning system before coupling allows for wide possibilities in the range of raw materials and on the degree of cooking. A specially designed cutting machine simultaneously cuts and pinches the edges of two sheets to form a hollow pillow, which will expand into a tridimensional shape when fried or toasted after drying.

3. Die-face cut pellets

The partially or fully cooked dough is forced through fancy shaped die inserts (stars, wheels, shrimps and many others) and immediately cut by means of a rotating blade pressing against the die face. The proper cooling of the extruder barrel and of the head holding the die allows precise control of the rheological properties of the dough and facilitates shape maintenance and cutting. The pellets are subsequently dried to moisture levels that permit optimum expansion during frying or toasting.

4. Highly gelatinized perforated pellets

These fancy shaped pellets are uniform in thickness (essential for the maintenance of shape definition upon frying or toasting), generally flat, with holes on the surface. They can be produced by using a specially designed high-speed rotary cutting machine which sequentially and synchronizedly punches the holes and cuts the sheet to the desired shape. Precise control of sheet dimensions and rheological properties, as well as the level of synchronization during cutting, are fundamental factors in achieving the desired product quality.

Snack Pellets - Global Trends & Forecast to 2019

Mauro Costa
Click on: Snack Pellets Market by Type (Potato, Corn, Rice, Tapioca, Mixed Grain and Others) & by Geography

Saturday, 6 December 2014


  • In 2010, the Frito Lay Factory in Perry, Georgia received a gold certificate from the US Green Building Council for the environmentally friendly nature of its production facilities.
  • Less than 1% of the Perry factory’s solid waste goes in landfill sites.
  • The Frito Lay Company is the product of two companies that united in 1961: The Frito Company and the H. W. Lay Company.
  • The Perry, Georgia factory is one of Frito Lay’s largest production facilities - it spans almost one million square feet.
  • Frito Lay exports its products to 79 countries.
  • The Perry, Georgia facility is efficient – potatoes arrive at the facility and are bagged as chips within six to eight hours.
  • The Perry, Georgia facility cooks around one million pounds of potatoes every day.
  • The potatoes used for Frito Lay’s potato chips are harvested from over 80 farms scattered across the USA.
  • An average of 175,000 boxes of chips leave the Perry facility every day.
  • Frito Lay employs over 48,000 people. Around 1400 of these people work at the Perry, Georgia facility.
  • Every year over 300 million metric tons of potatoes are grown in around 150 countries worldwide.
  • China is the world’s biggest potato producer, but other leading potato growing nations include Russia, the Ukraine, India and the United States of America.
  • During the Irish Potato famine of 1845 and 1849, around one million people died of starvation, typhus and other famine related diseases.
  • As well as for potato chips, potatoes are also a staple ingredient in products as diverse as flour and vodka.
  • The potato arrived in Europe, from South America, some time between 1565 and 1573.
  • Source: National Geographic

Saturday, 19 July 2014


Once, my wife told me this interesting story about her childhood:
Two decades after the Korean war, children used to rush out from their houses to the main square holding raw grains of rice in their hands. This used to happen once per week, when one of the most famous and delighted old men in the world arrived in the village. Why was this man so respected and waited by every child? The answer is easy and quite entertaining. This old man, thanks to the combination of pressure and heat, was able to turn raw grains of rice into delicious rice cakes, which were highly desired by many children who were both fascinated by the old man’s skills and scared by the deep “boom” coming from the tool he made use of in order to make these tasty snacks.
Nowadays, pressure and heat are still there as two main physical variables to play with in order to transform raw ingredients into delicious snacks. However, compared to the brave Chinese seen in the video, heat and pressure are now controlled using high tech mechanical and electronic solutions.
Moreover, fast and precise batch process, using multi heads volumetric dosing system, allows to obtain from each machine around 25 to 50 kg of finished product per hours, which is ready to be flavoured and packed. A number of machines can be also aligned all together for high capacity production. This way, the entire quantity of the product is spread on several units instead of only one. To sum up, even though one or two of your machines stopped working, there would not be any problem.
Furthermore, since when human beings, thanks to Pascal and Joule, found out how to change physical and organoleptic proprieties of cereals, many ingredients that can be used with the machines mentioned above have changed. For instance, plain grains such as nature delivers can be mixed all together, but they are not the only ones. As a matter of fact, thanks to new and more sophisticated results of cooking extrusion technologies, a great deal of different ingredients can be mixed too, such as different cereal flours, potato solids, fruits, vegetables, spices and other functional ingredients.
Here you can see an example of those snack pellets, which can be formed and cut in a large variety of shapes.
Thanks to the new technologies mentioned earlier and some of the best snack pellets existing, the best snack companies in the world introduced mouthwatering and low-cal snacks.
Here you can find some of the latest products, which have been recently launched in different markets around the world.