Frito-Lay files patent for probiotic yogurt chips
Frito-Lay has developed a method to make shelf-stable chips containing up to 20% dehydrated yogurt and live probiotics, reports FoodNavigator-USA.
The company’s patent was published in February. It says there is a demand for snack foods containing high amounts of yogurt without the need for refrigeration, and without compromising taste, texture or appearance. The starch-based chips could also contain other inclusions, like dried fruit, nuts, chocolate or vegetable powders.
The probiotics could be included directly into the chips' dough mix as spores or microencapsulated, or as a topical powder as part of a seasoning mix.
Yogurt’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, with sales up nearly 50% from 2009 to 2014. This is mainly driven by Greek yogurt and yogurt drinks, sales of which have increased 62% from 2011 to 2016.
Due to its high moisture content, companies have been unable to use yogurt as an ingredient in shelf-stable foods. Frito-Lay’s patent says its chips could contain up to 20% yogurt and have a shelf life of at least a month, but potentially up to nine months.
The patent details a “light and crisp baked snack” with varying levels of yogurt, moisture, oil and starch — either modified starch or pre-gelatinized corn starch. Meanwhile, probiotic sales are also on the rise, and Frito-Lay will be aiming to tap into interest for probiotics in an increasingly diverse range of products.
The main challenges in developing the chips include the need to adjust temperatures and processing methods to protect the probiotics, and handling a stickier dough created with the yogurt’s high protein and moisture content. The higher protein content could also lead to overbrowning and overexpansion of the dough, and the company said increasing drying times, baking at lower temperatures of 315°F to 415°F, and increasing airflow could help deal with these issues. Adding enzymes to the dough could help reduce stickiness.
Given the significant challenges involved, it is likely that these chips would be sold at a premium, and Frito-Lay might try to position them at the crossroads of health and indulgence. Better-for-you chips might seem like a contradiction in terms, but companies have been seeking the sweet spot between nutrition and indulgence in other categories — including chocolate. Research suggests that consumers often look for a healthy balance in traditionally indulgent categories.