Exclusive: Long Chips – Clean Ingredients Are in Big Demand with Consumers
Latvian potato processor Long Chips is one of the companies that have come up with an interesting concept on the potato chips market, as the name suggests. In this interview, I talked to Kristaps Radzins, export manager of the company, about the current trends and consumer behavior pertaining to the beloved potato chips.
by Dan Orehov
Please talk us through a short history of your company.
In 1986, we created the first potato chips in Latvia. At that time, only two flavors were offered Original and with Onion. Each package contained 200g of chips. In 1992, a private company was established to keep the production of the chips that were already beloved by many Latvians, while a year later, in order to meet the market requirements a new design and size of the package was introduced. This was the first change in the product since the very beginning.
In 1994, having seen the increased demand for the chips, the company decided to enlarge its production premises. After reconstruction, the factory was doubled in size. Immediately after, a new automatic packing and labeling line was bought, that optimized the production process and ensured the consistency of the product, while in 1997, after installing the flow pack and inkjet printer, a new package was introduced. This push gave the company the opportunity to revise the design of the packaging and introduce a new brand name – Plāksnes which literally translates as plates. Plāksnes was now able to offer seven different flavors: Cheese, Bacon, Dill, Bacon & Onion, Cheese & Onion, Ketchup and Mexicano. Plāksnes went on to be successful in the market place for the next 18 years.
We started venturing into export in 2010, while two years later an increase in orders meant we needed more capacity and a decision was made to build a new factory which was completed within 2 years. A few years after the first export venture it became clear that a new brand name was needed and by 2013 we introduced Long Chips. Self-explanatory wording that answers the ultimate question – what are they? They are LONG! chips offering unique and innovative snacking experience.
What can you tell us about the importance of certified qualitative products?
Our commitment to quality starts from the employment of the leading specialists in the food industry. We carefully monitor our suppliers in order to ensure the consistency of each product that leaves our factory. In today’s shifting economy and environment, the quality management plays a key role, therefore our competence is verified by third-party auditors. Our factory is BRC certified. BRC Global Standards is a leading brand and consumer protection organization, used by over 25,000 certificated suppliers over 130 countries, with certification issued through a global network of accredited certification bodies.
What are some of the new trends in chips you have noticed?
Clean ingredients, but unfortunately few really know what that means. Very often, for instance, people try to avoid MSG so they choose an alternative without it, BUT instead they have something that contains yeast extract, which in turn consists of MSG… so it is a matter of understanding what is what. The same applies for sugar-cautious people, very often regular sugar is replaced by complex ingredients which are much sweeter and have much worse effect on your liver, sugar spikes etc.
In your opinion, what are some of the key links between health and sustainability?
It is better to use local ingredients. European producers should avoid palm oil / fat and other sourced ingredients, that might save some forests in Indonesia or elsewhere. The thing is that it is cheaper than sunflower or rapeseed and very often is imported from poor agricultural countries, that way some countries exploit the other ones, plus palm oil is quite hard to breakdown compared to sunflower or rapeseed to which Europeans, for instance, are so used.
For the complete interview, please read the March-April 2019 issue of Potato Processing International.