The use of potato coatings is on the rise in Europe. This includes items such as twister fries with a spicy layer or potato wedges in a spicy jacket. There are also invisible starch-based coatings that make items such as oven chips nice and crispy. In short, thin layers that pack a punch in terms of product preparation and flavour experience. Directors Paul Vos and John Dokter from De Korrel Beheer from Terschuur in the Netherlands explain how they have mastered the art of coatings.
Originally, De Korrel was a breadcrumb baker and that remains the company's largest business unit. The most recent factory in Barneveld produces 125 tons of breadcrumbs per day, in all varieties, sizes and colours. The coating mixes are almost all tailor-made and are used for a wide range of snacks, from croquettes to deep-fried chow mein bites, but also for schnitzels, cordon bleu items and prawns. The optimised production line means that De Korrel can make the breadcrumbs even lighter, resulting in a delicious, crispy coating that stays put during preparation.
De Korrel Beheer is engaged in continuous, ongoing development. "That starts with R&D because, for us, craftsmanship is about continually improving and refining products", says Vos. "The challenge is to create the ultimate coating mix which benefits the structure, flavour and preparation of meat, fish and snack products. The market is also changing. People used to buy their croquettes in take-aways, but now they may deep-fry them at home too. The fact they use tools and items that vary from those used by professionals and are less fastidious about preparation means that there are different requirements for supermarket croquettes. The breadcrumb layer is vital in this context and we capitalise on this."
We are seeing trends changing in Europe, partly as a result of the emergence of the air-fryer
The goal of continuous learning and innovation has led to collaboration with a large American producer of items which include potato coatings. "We are seeing trends changing in Europe, partly as a result of the emergence of the air-fryer", explain Vos and Dokter. "We were already making mixes for crisps and other potato products, but our joint venture HB Speciality Foods Europe means a greater focus on potato coatings. It's all about dry mixes of starch varieties and herby blends, but also invisible clear coatings which create a crispy end-product. For example, oven chips, for which demand in Europe is steadily growing."
Creative thinking and tailor-made solutions fit in with our working methods
What is particularly special is the innovative potato coating that plays a crucial role in Fries4all, which De Korrel Beheer started with HZPC and RSK. The product is still in the testing phase but Vos gives us a glimpse behind the scenes. "A well-known person with prediabetes who loves chips was actively seeking healthier chips. He couldn't find any so he knocked at the door of HZPC. There, he found out that there are potato varieties that are suitable for him, but they cannot be used to create edible chips. Via a few other people, a connection was made with De Korrel Beheer and our R&D team took on the challenge because creative thinking and tailor-made solutions fit in with our working methods. And yes, we succeeded in developing a new potato coating that allows one of these varieties to be used to make tasty chips."
Fries4all is an inspiring project for De Korrel Beheer. "The interaction with HZPC meant we learnt about the characteristics of potato varieties." The patents for the promising new product have been received and HB Specialty Foods LLC USA – De Korrel Beheer's American partner – is starting a test run with a large chip manufacturer in the United States. In the meantime, in Europe, De Korrel continues to focus on the ongoing development of coatings, breadcrumbs, herb blends and marinades for meat, fish, poultry, potatoes, snacks and even baked goods such as muffins. "We are seeing that 'easy' food is remaining popular but, at the same time, people want to know what they are eating. We are therefore working with good building blocks and great partners. We are also employing technology to create a balance between flavour, convenience and health."