Potatoes are a value-added and versatile ingredient for convenience foods
According to IRI’s 2019 New Product Survey, 65% of respondents cite convenience as a key driver for trying new foods and beverages. Indeed, time-pressed consumers look to make food preparation, consumption and cleanup easy.
But product developers—tasked with bringing convenient concepts to commercialization—must understand what consumers mean by “convenience” and the familiar ingredients with which to deliver it. Potato ingredients do just that.
Potato Pastry Snack
One way consumers define convenience is as easy-to-eat, grab-and-go snacks. Bars and handheld baked goods are popular options, and potatoes can make them better, such as in a potato-infused toaster pastry.
A sweet/savory bacon-jam filling can be a departure from the usual fruit- or dessert-flavored options that potato products can lend a hand in creating. Potato flakes in the filling can serve as a cleaner-label, gluten-free, cost-effective alternative to binders such as starches and gums and provide a neutral to hearty flavor profile to help bring savory or sweet concepts to life.
When potato flakes are precooked, their starch gelatinizes and becomes more soluble. This allows the flakes to absorb more water than wheat flour, rice flour or cornstarch. By managing the moisture in this savory filling, potato flakes not only prevent syneresis, but control the filling’s water activity, keeping it within the range of shelf stability.
Potato flakes and flour also make the dough better. Their water-holding capacity delays staling to extend shelf life; as does the interaction of their precooked amylopectin starch with gluten proteins.
In fact, potato flour performs superbly in low-moisture doughs. Potato flour tenderizes the crust and adds a soft chew without toughness. It’s also low in protein, creating a short dough, appropriate for cookies and pastries.
In addition, the potato flakes and flour help the pastry crust develop a rich brown color during baking, thanks to the participation of their natural sugars.
Contemporary potato salad
Classic potato salad also qualifies as convenient, but consumers prefer not to make it from scratch. At the same time, supermarket deli versions don’t always boast the better-for-you nutritionals and trending flavors that consumers crave.
By retorting fresh potatoes and pairing them with bright herbs, vinegars, healthful oils and crave-worthy vegetables, product developers can create a fully prepared potato salad with an extended shelf life of up to two-years. Packaging it in a handy cup-for-one makes it easy to toss in the gym bag, keep in the desk drawer, or sack lunch for whenever the craving for a convenient, good-for-you meal strikes. Frozen potatoes function as well as fresh in this application, as both formats hold their texture through high-temperature processing and room-temperature storage.
A third definition of convenience comes from market-research firm Mintel, wherein convenience is premiumized. Today’s consumers demand more natural, nutritious, or customizable products that will also keep pace with busy schedules without sacrificing health goals or curiosity for new ingredients, flavors, or formats.
Aligned with that notion is the use of potatoes as a base for frozen “performance” bowls. This concept combines the potatoes powerful performance capabilities with other wellness-forward ingredients like kale, quinoa and eggs in a microwaveable one-dish meal.
Because potatoes offer complex carbohydrates, they make these already-convenient frozen microwaveable bowls an ideal pre-or post-workout meal. The nutrient-dense carbohydrates in potatoes are the brain’s primary fuel and muscles’ key source of energy. The carbohydrates in potatoes help optimize physical and mental performance.
In addition to supporting performance, potatoes may promote satiety. Evidence from single meal study suggests that potatoes stave off hunger better than other common sides (e.g. rice, pasta and bread). Therefore, consumers can still get the optimal results from a meal without feeling like they need to eat more.
As with the potato salad above, either fresh or frozen diced potatoes are appropriate for this application, as they maintain their firm bite and attractive appearance from production through home preparation.
Finally, potatoes pair well with an endless range of flavor profiles and accompaniments in health-bowl concepts. Colorful and vibrant, these potato bowls make breakfast, lunch or dinner easy, and they display the premium-quality and flavor that consumers desire.
Potato products have a well-earned reputation for unparalleled flavor, versatility and nutrition. That’s why you’ll find these operationally efficient, hardworking and naturally gluten-free potato ingredients in everything from ready-to-eat meals to products used by athletes. Fresh, dehydrated and frozen potato ingredients bring value-added functionality to formulations across categories. Potatoes can add flavor, improved texture, increased yield, convenience and nutrition in multiple applications. Potato ingredients make formulating for convenience easy.
Learn more at www.potatogoodness.com/ingredient
Rachael Lynch is global marketing manager at Potatoes USA, Denver. Potatoes USA is the marketing organization for the 2,500 commercial potato growers operating in the United States. The company promotes five main potato products: fresh table-stock potatoes, fresh chipping potatoes, seed potatoes, frozen potato products and dehydrated potato products.
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