Expansion Technologies for Food Materials

A Fortune 500 Food and Beverage Company explores new Food Production techniques

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It is currently possible to expand and “puff-up” food with high starch to protein ratios – such as corn, rice and wheat – so that they have a crunchy texture while still largely maintaining their shape. However, by themselves, these foods do not represent a healthy and nutritious option for the consumer.

Furthermore, in an effort to enhance their taste value, they are usually combined with other calorie-rich but less nutritious foods in the form of snacks such as rice crispy treats, chocolate-coated rice cakes and butter-dosed popcorn.

30 Days

Challenge duration

Twenty Two




The Challenge

  • Existing expansion technologies do not work with more nutritious foods -such as nuts and seeds – that are relatively higher in protein, fiber and fat.
  • The Seeker wanted to find new processes or methods that would make this expansion possible.
  • The final product would need to have a crisp, crunchy or equivalent texture and retain the shape of the original starting material, just expanded. The whole nut or seed had to be used and could not be ground or chopped up and reformed by molding, extrusion, etc.

The Solutions

  • Solvers were required to provide a detailed description of their proposed process or method and specify how it met the Technical Requirements, the conditions under which it would work, the readiness of the technology and their rationale as to why it would work, backed up by supporting evidence.
  • As this was a Theoretical Challenge, the Seeker only had to make an award if they found a solution that met all the Technical Requirements following a theoretical evaluation of the proposals.

The Results

  • The Seeker ended up making a $10,000 award to a retired engineer from Romania for his 10-page proposal that should allow for nuts and seeds to be expanded by at least 50% while maintaining their shape and crunchy texture.
  • The proposal was ready to immediately be taken into the laboratory by the Seeker and tested.

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