Snack foods are tasty and affordable products that are available in various types and are appreciated by consumers in every age group. Corn puffs or Puffcorn are puffed or extruded corn, one of the most liked and popular snacks food in India and worldwide. This snacks food product is known by various names like puffcorn or the more generic term corn puffs in particular and can also be made to look similar to popcorn (popcorn is made from whole grains).
Corn puffed snacks food prepared from rice, maize, and wheat grains have been consumed since antiquity. However, the rapid industrialization in the snacks food sector has led to significant consumption of puffed snacks food in the forms of corn puffs/puffcorn, popcorns, breakfast cereals, rice crispies, etc. The consumption of corn flakes and other breakfast cereals, which earlier was limited mostly to the West has now started to soar in the East Asian and Indian societies as well. The increasing consumption of puffed cereals among school-going children as snacks owing to their high protein content has augmented the demand for puffed corn flakes in India and other developing countries in recent times. Moreover, the rising consumer demand for snack options with low-calorie count has fuelled the consumption of corn puffs and other puffed cereals among weight watchers.
In India, we do not have many snack food items that are common in developed countries. Generally available items in this category are popcorn, potato wafer, banana wafer, tapioca wafer, homemade items Murukku, Dalmot, Salted groundnuts, etc. and very few of these items are made on an organized industrial scale. With the growth of industrialization in the country and more purchasing power of people, there is a potential demand for these snack foods throughout India.
Market Opportunities for Startups in Snacks Food
Raw materials which used in making snack foods are wheat, maize, rice, etc. and these are available in plenty in the country. Snack foods of different flavors prepared from these cereals will be more palatable to the people. There is also scope to improve the nutrition level of the people by supplementing these foods with essential vitamins and minerals. Keeping the above factors in view, there seems to be a good scope for this industry mainly startups in the country. For this business in snacks food new startups can choose and install among many corn puffs processing machines, the quality branded products preferred in different countries of five continents are:
- Corn Puffs Line—Single Screw Extruder (GTL-100-CPLS)
- Corn Puffs Line— Twin Screw Extruder (GTL-100-CPLT)
Raw Materials for Corn Puffs Snacks
Extruded puffed corn snacks exist in the snack group of food products and are made using corn grits, rice, wheat, sorghum, or other cereals, and are often flavored with cheese, oil, chili, onion or garlic powder, and many other spices. The resultant puffed products are several times larger than the original raw materials or grains.
Corn puffs or puffcorn is commonly known as ready‐to‐eat (RTE) functional breakfast cereal or an extruded functional snack food. Some puffcorn is made with oat flour, flaxseed, and chia corn. Due to the health benefits, there has been increased interest in developing functional snacks food products containing chia and nutritional raw materials. Extrusion is an effective method for incorporating other functional ingredients into corn puffs snacks.
Based on type, the puffed snacks food market is segmented into wheat, rice, corn, sorghum, ragi, and others. The puffed food market based on application is classified into the bakery industry and snacks industry.
There are different types of corn puffs or puffcorn which can vary between a lower specific length, higher bulk density, lower lightness, higher redness, lower yellowness, higher hardness, and lower springiness, gumminess, and chewiness when using different percentages of oat flour and depending on the kinds of raw materials along with partial ingredients mixing in.
Corn Puffs Manufacturing Process through Extrusion Cooking
Extrusion is one of the most important new processes used in modern food technology; its application has increased in the past two decades. Extrusion is an advantageous, cleaner, and more effective technology that can yield a product with the same or even better quality than traditional technology products. This process has been used in the production of many varieties of foods including snack foods, breakfast cereals, and other ready‐to‐eat textured foods.
The extrusion cooking mechanism for snacks manufacturing is a thermodynamic process where the dough is passed through a tube and heated under a certain amount of pressure. The corn puffs or puffcorn dough snacks product is then forced through a narrow opening called a die, and as it gets released, the change in pressure and temperature causes the product to puff out, giving the texture and consistency of corn puffs. The different shapes and textures of puffcorn/corn puffs are manipulated by the die at the end of the extruder and the type of extruders used such as single screw extruder or twin screw extruder. Specific types of grain size of the starch required during processing also depend on the snack type itself, for example; if the corn puffs/puffcorn snack requires a fine structure with small pores an extruder with smaller granulation should be used whereas crispier corn puffs/puffcorn would require larger granulation.
A Twin Screw Extruder (GTL-100-CPLT) or single screw extruder is used in this extrusion cooking of puffs using different raw materials. And corn puffs snacks processing line uses corn and rice flour and other ingredients mixed and extrude through the single screw extruder and twin screw extruders. After the extrusion process is the precisely baked and proper coating of snacks takes place. This gives us crunchy & tasty corn puffs in various shapes. The process includes precise mixing, dosing of raw materials, cooking, and shaping using advanced extrusion techniques to drying and coating.
Properties & Nutritional Value of Corn Puffs
The quality and overall acceptability of corn puffs/puffcorn, as determined by consumers’ sensory evaluation methods, is based on characteristics of their appearance, texture, and flavor. Sensory analysis or evaluation is a scientific discipline that applies principles of experimental design and statistical analysis to the use of human senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing) to evaluate consumer products. Desired sensory attributes are attained by controlling the composition of the raw material and the processing conditions during the extrusion of corn puffs.
Various efforts have been made to produce snacks with higher nutritional and lower adverse effects by incorporating different additional sources such as soybean or soya bean or soy protein isolate, soy flour, shrimp powder, tomato powder, soy flour, and oat bran, different flour and powder, yam flour, and vitamins.
Sesame seed has gained considerable attention in human nutrition in the production of functional foods mainly ready-to-eat snacks. Sesame seed is a rich source of essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, tocopherols, and phenolic compounds including sesamol, sesamolin, phenylethanethiol, vinylguaiacol, furyl‐methanthiol, and furaneol. These compounds lead to high oxidation stability of sesame seed oil. This seed contains a high amount of minerals and B‐complex vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, folic acid, riboflavin, and pyridoxine. Furthermore, the consumption of sesame seeds can decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers.
Before starting puffing the following points to be considered
- The raw material for the final product must be amorphous.
- The water content must be correct. Too little water results in burning and less puffing because
(i) the temperature of the item will get too high before the glass transition is reached,
(ii) there is insufficient water to puff adequately, and
(iii) without enough water the snack won’t be flexible enough to expand. In the biz, they say water acts as a plasticizer.
That’s why machine operators must be aware that if the moisture content of ingredients is above 15% they won’t get much puffing. If it is below about 10% they also won’t get much puffing. So moisture level is close they can get it just right by sealing their stuff in a container with a saturated solution of ammonium nitrate or sodium nitrite in water.
- Other substances can also act as plasticizers – such as salt.
- Don’t add things to the snack that will burn before the ingredient item is fully puffed –like sugar.
- Don’t add things that will compete with the water in the snack and prevent puffing –like sugar.