Harnessing soft-matter physics to create better snacks


Consumers like the texture of potato-based snacks, but potatoes do not grow everywhere. PepsiCo wants to produce affordable snacks made from local ingredients in emerging markets. It asked Innovia how it could achieve similar textural results with local ingredients.


We translated how the microstructure, formulation, and processing affected the unique material properties of a potato-based snack, and how those properties affected texture, sound, and appearance. We formed general theories for what should be true of a “potato-like” formulation. We convened a workshop of third-party experts to develop these theories further and helped PepsiCo to progress and interpret experiments to confirm these theories.


We expanded PepsiCo’s capabilities in processing non-potato-based ingredients in order to utilize local ingredients and improve nutritional quality of its products in developing regions. Some products have already been launched in India. For the successful application of soft-matter physics to this challenge, PepsiCo received an Institute of Physics Business Award, which celebrates entrepreneurship, innovation excellence, and the successful implementation of physics into a product or service.