New Zealand potato chip manufacturer Heartland Potato Chips just launched a range of premium crafted kettle chips in four flavours.
Established in Washdyke in 2010 by Raymond and Adrienne Bowan, the company will likely have to introduce double shifts to cope with its growing range of products.
The family business has installed new equipment to be able to manufacture this new range of premium crafted kettle chips This adds to the firm's six-flavour wave cut range, produced since the factory started in 2010 and its flat cut category introduced in 2015.
Heartland Potato Chips owner Raymond Bowan and his daughter, general manager Charlotte Bowan, keep an eye on their new range of premium crafted kettle chips as they rise in the fryer. (Courtesy: Fairfax NZ)
The management team would not be drawn on how much they have invested in the new product line, citing commercial sensitivity.
However, the couple's daughter and general manager, Charlotte Bowan, said kettle chips were popular and something they had been thinking about making for a while.
The two lines of products can not work in tandem without investment in further equipment.
Charlotte Bowan, general manager, Heartland Potato Chips:
"It is either one line or the other.”
“We can't work the two lines together yet."
Heartland Potato Chips, which employs 16 people, may need eight more workers. A double shift would increase output from 1500 cartons to 3000 cartons, containing 12 packets of 150g each.
The company supplies Progressive Enterprises and Foodstuffs supermarkets throughout New Zealand, and exports to Singapore and Brisbane in Australia.
"We hope to export the kettle [chips] as well."
The new equipment was tested at the start of February, and the first new chips were packaged last Tuesday but have only been distributed to Timaru supermarkets so far.
Before they trialled the new line, the firm worked with a flavour house to perfect the kettle chips.
"We were impressed with it coming off the line. We wanted to make sure it was right."
The difference between the usual wave cut chip and the kettle style was in the way they were cooked and travelled through the labyrinth of chutes and conveyors.
"Wave cut [chips] are in a continual line through the fryer for 3.5 minutes. Kettle chips are totally separate and about 80 kilograms to 120kg of potatoes are cooked at once."
Heartland Potato Chips general manager Charlotte Bowan, and Heartland owner Raymond Bowan watch the cooked chips as they head along the production line. (Courtesy: Fairfax NZ)
Because the kettles entered and were removed from the fryer at the same time, there was 5 per cent less oil in the chip and they were crisper and crunchier, Charlotte Bowan said.
The factory had been busy stockpiling the wave cuts and flat cuts so it could concentrate on the new product.
Raymond and Adrienne Bowan grow the potatoes at Orari on a 250-hectare plot. They also supply other local companies for french fries. The potatoes are fresh from January to the end of May and then stored for use over winter.
The biggest challenge of the business had actually been deciding to start it, while the highlight was seeing Heartland chips on the supermarket shelves, Raymond Bowan said.
Heartland Potato Chips 'Premium Crafted Crisp' (Kettle chip) hit the shelves in New Zealand on 27th February 2017. The batch cooked chip comes in four different flavours and is distributed nationally.