May the Norse Be With You!

Crisps Mini-Series: Rysp

This is the second instalment of my mini-series focussing on Crisps.

Anyone that has been following my Food Adventures will know that I am a big fan of the crisps category; it’s fun, fast paced, innovative and driven by one overarching factor: taste. This was my favourite, and most valuable, category as a Retail Buyer and I had to keep my ear close to the ground with new product developments, competitor activity and sales driving initiatives. For an ambient product, crisps, have a relatively short shelf-life and therefore it was of utmost importance for me that the rate of sale is high and I wasn’t left with any dusty packets.

The market has undergone a change in the last five years as the consumer base has been made to feel increasingly guilty for eating foods that they enjoy and crisps are an easy target. Therefore suppliers have worked tirelessly to find the golden egg and produce a great tasting crisp that ticks a number of boxes for the health-conscious, calorie counters. In my opinion, the big boys have failed at this and only managed to produce different flavours of cardboard that aren’t going to satisfy anybody craving a hunger fix. This has led to the growth of a, still relatively, new sub-sector: popcorn. This mini-series is all about crisps and not the whole snacking category but it is worth noting that the growth of brands like Propercorn have chipped (unintentional pun I promise!) away at the share held by potato crisps in the aisle and this trend doesn’t appear likely to slow down any time soon. A fact that demonstrates this seismic shift is that, in the last couple of weeks, Propercorn have been named as branded Snacks Supplier of the Year in 2015 by The Grocer.

So potato crisps have to react…

The artisanal world of crisps has exploded making it a very saturated market so the need for differentiation and something that allows your product to raise its head above the parapet is key. The mainstream market is dominated by very few, very large suppliers but they are very poor at reacting to trends leaving a bit of an open goal for smaller producers. However, this blatant opportunity also created a bottleneck with a plethora brown paper brands springing up almost overnight. The problem that I faced as a buyer presented with a deluge of options was how to make the right choice. They were all great quality, hand cooked crisps with an endearing heritage and backstory. A small supplier has a number of tools within its gift to create that point of difference (brand, flavours, packaging, marketing, target audience) but achieving the utopia of a unique proposition is no easy task.

However this mini-series is about more than just reviewing a selection of crisps. No, it’s much more than that. This blog is about reclaiming the meaning of quality, potato-based, snacking. I grew up with Kettle being a treat that was savoured only on special occasions but for too long has that ‘premium’ brand let me down. No bag of crisps that features on the shelves of B&M can boast a premium appeal. In fact I was in my local Lifestyle Express the other week and I saw a bag of Kettle crisps with a £1.29 price-mark on a Buy One Get One Free promotion. The buyer in me thought, ‘what an amazing deal, why wasn’t I ever offered that?’ but a little part of my crisp-loving soul cracked, broke off and shattered like the greasy little crumbs in the corner of the bag. 64.5p per bag of ‘premium’ crisps? No sir, I’m not having that!

Right, enough of that! On with my review…

Product Review: Rysp Garlic & Rosemary with Sesame Seed

Rating: 7/10

Appeals to: the health conscious, free-from fanatics and those seeking something new

Packaging

The packaging is basic with most of the pack being transparent to showcase the rye sourdough, baked crisps, which is important for such a unique product. The branding and imagery are quirky and will certainly allow the product to ‘pop’ on shelf.

Price

£3.60 (120g bag) – There’s no two ways about it, this is expensive. The price point certainly sets it apart from any other snack in the crisp category and highlights the fantastic quality ingredients that have gone into forging this snack.

Delivery

Now, this is quite different to anything else in the snacks category and describes itself as Baked Rye Sourdough Crisps. The crisps have a tough texture that give a strong initial sourdough flavour that melts as the oil releases a light rosemary hit with a lasting aromatic garlic which fills the mouth.

The packaging also makes a suggestion that Rysps are great for topping so I took up the opportunity to get the hummus out and I was onto a winner!!

Verdict – in a word, interesting! The potential problem I’d see with this snack is where does it sit? Crisps? Biscuits? Snacks? Crackers? Price point would suggest that it would only look appropriate in a free-from section. In my opinion this is a snack that needs a friend in the shape of a dip or a topping. In sum though this is definitely worth a try.

Details: http://www.plaintasty.com

Northern Munkee.