Take the humble chip and turn it into something so much more with seasonings, sauces and toppings
With less money to spend on eating out, customers are looking for value for money more than ever, but they are not wiling to compromise on quality, innovation or feeling adequately satisfied at the end a meal. How can you achieve all this while keeping costs down for both yourself and your customers? The answer is right under your nose – championing those chips.
Offering a good profit margin on their own, adding a sauce, seasoning or topping can increase this exponentially, costing from as little as 1p a portion but commanding upwards of 50p on the selling price.
As well as driving additional profits from existing customers, expanding your chip options can be a great way to attract additional footfall, as Ryan Baker, sales manager at Middleton Foods, says: “The option to sell chips with toppings is a great, creative way for chip shops to offer something which sets them apart from their competition – palates and consumer expectations are changing, and this style of offering on a menu can really help captivate consumers and encourage them to try something different.”
There are lots of options available depending on how creative you want to be. Seasonings are one of the easiest to jump onboard with as they are relatively low cost and simply require sprinkling on chips fresh out the pan (do make sure you do this away from the pan so as not to contaminate your oil).
You can blend your own, using spices and herbs from companies like Schwartz from McCormick Foodsolutions, or you can buy ready-made chip seasonings. American Chip Spice, for example, offers two flavours, Classic and Hot, while Rupert’s Ingredients offers slightly more choice with its American, Piri Piri, Smokey BBQ and Cajun chip salts.
For something totally new, Middleton Foods has just launched three chip seasonings Piri Piri, Smokey and Chinese Salt & Chilli – all of which have the added benefit of being gluten free. Middleton’s Ryan Baker adds: “They’re a great way to add a global flavour profile – take the Piri Piri Gluten Free Chip Seasoning for example, which is a carefully blended mix of salts and spices that delivers an authentic Portuguese taste.”
Another new product to hit the market is Ceres Louisiana Chip Seasoning, which gives a spicy, deep south flavour when sprinkled over chips.
Tiffany Irvin, owner of The Fish Works in Largs, Ayr, has experimented with the seasoning, creating spicy chips as well as honey chilli chips, both of which sell at £3.20 – 40p more than conventional chips.
Tiffany comments: “We had a little brainstorming meeting with the team and we thought fancy chips would be good as they offer our customers a cheaper alternative in the current climate and also help us, as this is where profit can be made, especially with the price increases on things like fish and chicken.”
Although intended as a Christmas special, the honey chilli chips have proven so popular, The Fish Works is keeping them on the menu permanently and it has inspired monthly specials, with cheese, bacon and sour cream followed by Texas chips with cajun seasoning, jalapeños and hot sauce coming soon.
At Merchants Fish Bar, which has branches in Halesowen, Bewdley and Stourbridge, in the West Midlands, owner Antony Akathiotis, has added battered chips to the menu. Using a specialist chip batter (fish batter simply won’t do the job – you need a batter with less lift so that it sticks to the chips), Antony says it’s a bit more work and it’s a messy process but it’s quite simple, adding: “It gives customers more choice and allows us to charge that little bit extra. We make small batches of batter and we cook each portion fresh to order, that way the batter stays nice and crispy and we ensure there isn’t any wastage.
“They are doing really well and although they will never overtake sales of normal chips, they probably make up about 20-25% of our chip sales now.”
Another option gaining momentum is loaded fries brought to us courtesy of our friends across the pond. Literally anything goes here depending on what you have to hand and your kitchen facilities. Pete Evans, UK marketing manager at chip supplier Lamb Weston says look for easy to assemble options and trending flavours/seasonal ingredients that can command around £4-5 margin per serve (ingredients costing around £1 per serve with £5-6 selling price based on a 2pp sharer option).
As well as concentrating on the toppings, another option is to try a different variety of chip – lattice potatoes or sweet potatoes can both command a price premium and work well as an upgrade option for an additional cost. Or for something unique there’s Lamb Weston’s gluten free, vegan-friendly Potato Dippers, which have a scoopable shape so are great for dunking or sharing.
“Our top tip,” says Pete, “would be to offer a ‘build your own fries’ menu – give customers a choice of sauces, toppers and extras that can change regularly, to offer something fresh and new, but all built around world-class quality fries!”
American Chip Spice www.americanchipspice.co.uk
Ceres Pure Food Innovation 0845 3711 522 www.worldofceres.com
Lamb Weston 0800 963962 www.lambweston.eu/uk
Middleton Foods 01902 608122 www.middletonfoods.com
McCormick 08081 000363 www.mccormickflavoursolutions.co.uk
Rupert’s Ingredients 01709 891033 www.rupertsingredients.com
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