Pipers Crisps: When it Comes to the Crunch, it’s all About the Science

Pipers Crisps has turned to science to ensure it stays ahead of the competition as Britain’s tastiest premium crisp brand.

We have teamed up with food experts at the University of Nottingham to help perfect the potato cooking process and to establish a team of taste specialists within the company. The project, operating as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), supported by Innovate UK, was established in 2015 and gave Pipers direct access to the University’s Food Flavour and Sensory Science Laboratories in the School of Biosciences.

Key to the project was the specialist knowledge of PhD student, now Dr, Deepa Agarwal, an expert in food structure, flavour and product development. Inside the science labs Deepa used gas chromatography mass spectroscopy to understand the flavour profile and stability of Pipers crisps. With the help of advanced statistical analysis tools she was able to optimise cooking temperatures and times to minimise waste and enhance shelf life without compromising taste perception.

At the factory, Deepa spent 12 months drawing up a detailed training and selection programme to establish a team of specialist, in-house ‘tasters’. Using her sensory science know-how she looked for staff with untapped expertise in all five senses; hearing (to define texture), taste, smell, touch and sight. This team, drawn from across the company from the boardroom to the factory floor, will use their new-found skills in future product development as well as day to day quality control.

This team’s first notable achievement was the launch last year of Pipers Crisps first new flavour for four years; Wild Thyme & Rosemary. This vegetarian flavoured crisp has proven to be an instant hit with consumers, thanks to its unique flavour combination and the fact that it’s a perfect accompaniment for today’s light lunches on-the-go, and a match made in heaven for on-trend craft gins.

Pipers Crisps founder Alex Albone says: “We’re delighted with the contribution the Knowledge Transfer Partnership has made to our brand, putting real science behind the things we do and giving us sound evidence for our decision making. This will help us raise our quality standards even higher, and allow us to develop new and successful products in the future. The passion our people have always brought to our crisp making, backed up with the latest science, will help us stay ahead of the competition with even tastier crisps.”

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