Chips

Images via LioBites, The Daily Crave and NIM’s

Snack makers are passing on potatoes in favor of healthier chip alternatives.

There was a time when one might have described a flight as “all that and a bag of chips.” It was the 1990s. Those days, when potatoes of the fried variety were everyone’s favorite side order, are long gone. And now legumes of healthier stalk are edging into the airline snack market.

Like potato chips, veggie-based alternatives are lightweight and non-perishable, which are appealing qualities in the airline catering business.

Like potato chips, veggie-based alternatives are lightweight and non-perishable, which are appealing qualities in the airline catering business. Plus, many have the added benefits of being vegan, non-GMO, kosher, gluten- and guilt-free. You could say they’re all that and a bag of chips.

“Consumers are looking for the alternative, better-for-you snack that reminds them of potato chips, but without the fat and greasiness,” explains Hass Alireza, CEO of The Daily Crave, a California-based veggie-snack company. Instead of potatoes, its chips are made with lentils, quinoa and a cornucopia of roots and greens. Customers already include Virgin America, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Air Tahiti, and at least four more reviews are pending.   

Inspired by market trends in the United Kingdom, Novel Foods has released a halal-certified line of high-fiber corn chips and bites called #Indulge. Operations director Kamran Moslehi explains that because its products are free from common allergens, they can be “served among a majority of passengers without hesitation.”

Fruit chips are also benefiting from the clean snacking trend. Nimisha Raja, founder of Nim’s Fruit Crisps notes that in addition to health and convenience attributes, they give airlines a point of difference in the snack category. Parents in particular may appreciate this difference while flying with tots in tow. LioBites founder Anna Oldbury tested her fruit crisps with travelers at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 and found that “the feedback from business travelers and families traveling with children was overwhelmingly positive.”

LioBites founder Anna Oldbury tested her fruit crisps with travelers…and found that “the feedback from business travelers and families traveling with children was overwhelmingly positive.”

However, the chips are not all down for taters, which – it’s easy to forget in this context – are technically veggie chips, too. Potato chip sales continue to climb, and plenty of airlines still stock them. But the glossy sacks in galley carts are more likely to mirror the selection at the Whole Foods Market rather than your average convenient store rack.

Instead of curiously vague flavors such as Cool Ranch or All Dressed, expect to find Luke’s Organic Sea Salt on Alaska Airlines or Fairfields Farm’s Honey, Butter and Sea Salt on Virgin Atlantic. Sea salt is undoubtedly the flavor du jour, with Late July Sea Salt Multigrain appearing on Delta and Lillie’s Q Sea Salt & Black Pepper Kettle chips on United Airlines, too.

And for those who are suspicious of the new crop of veggie chips, AirlineMporium offers Mozaics, a popped potato chip with bits of organic green peas and yellow split peas in every bite, providing four grams of plant-based protein per serving.

Local and ethical production are also priorities, as Scandinavian Airlines’ selection of seventh-generation, Swedish family-farmed Larssons chips underscores. In announcing its estimated million-bag-per-year deal with Keogh’s, Emirates’ country manager for Ireland, Enda Corneille, said the origin and quality of the North Dublin farmed potatoes were a major factor in the airline’s decision. Then there’s JetBlue’s Terra Sweets & Blues Chips, which are harvested in part from the airline’s airport farm outside its hub, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

“Hold the Potato” was originally published in the 9.3 June/July issue of APEX Experience magazine.