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A soft matter physics approach was applied to the development of new snack products for consumers in emerging markets (including India, Thailand, and Indonesia), unlocking significant cost reductions (sales price of £0.05 per bag) and a reduced reliance on raw materials imported from Europe.

Lay's is one of the world's largest food brands and is aspirational to consumers everywhere seeking an assurance of safety, quality and great taste. 

Based on physics principles, this breakthrough provided a new route to delivering Lay's-branded quality snacks to consumers in emerging markets at an accessible price point. Sales two years after launch are at 120% of the volume plan, and are 100% incremental to Lay's potato chips, an outstanding commercial success for the innovation approach developed by the Lays Shapes team.

To meet the needs of consumers on product design (Lay’s branding) and cost, the team demonstrated that potato-character products need not rely on high potato formulations, requiring a new framework to address the challenge by understanding the process in a new way.

In collaboration with Prof van der Sman (Wageningen University), the team applied soft matter physics tools such as Complex Disperse System methodology with fundamental characterisation methods such as microscopy, to define and understand ingredient and product functionality from a microstructural perspective.

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