An eco-friendly alternative to chip and snack bags has been long overdue in the green space. If ever there was an invention that was long overdue, this is it – plastic-free, compostable snack bags. To the rescue came the makers of Humble Potato Chips, which were introduced at Sobeys stores in June 2022.
Humble Potato Chips co-founders Alicia and Jeff Lahey are a husband-and-wife duo who have successfully proven that compostable bags can work and have the potential to save billions of plastic bags from landfills and oceans. This approach has the potential to take the whole snack-food industry in a more sustainable direction.
There are a lot of different uses for this type of packaging… This is not patented technology, and it never will be – it’s just something that we’re doing because it’s the right thing to do.
Humble Potato Chips is taking the whole snack food industry in a more sustainable direction.
These are sobering stats. While the technology for compostable bags has been around for years, snack manufacturers have been wary of the cost. Sustainability has not been at the forefront of business plans for many companies until recently.
“Now, if you’re not focusing on sustainability, your customers will want to know – why not?” Alicia says.
Anyone can follow suit.
“All the materials used to create Humble Chips bags are certified compostable, with two certifications: one from DIN Certco and now one from the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), which is more recognizable in North America. They are made using technology that the Laheys are more than willing to share.
“There are a lot of different uses for this type of packaging,” Alicia says. “We’ve done a lot of research, vetting different suppliers, so we’re ready to help anyone. This is not patented technology, and it never will be – it’s just something that we’re doing because it’s the right thing to do.”The Laheys met while they were both working for Frito Lay. When they started living a more organic lifestyle, they moved over to the natural food side of the business before deciding to go out on their own, building on their new packaging idea and finding their niche within the premium snack industry.
“We are definitely a purpose-over-profit type of business,” Alicia says.
It’s more important to us to show people that it’s possible to respect the planet with a potato chip bag that just goes in the compost bin. There’s nothing more humble than the potato.
Certified organic Humble Potato Chips are made using only organic potatoes produced on a small family-owned farm just outside Alliston, Ontario. “We use ‘chipping’ potatoes specifically grown for this use. They are typically a bit more round than other varieties and have the perfect starch content to allow the potato to cook to a crispy texture and golden-yellow colour,” Alicia says.
The skins are left on not only to add more flavour and texture but also to reduce food waste, a shared priority with Sobeys Inc.
About 1.25 billion plastic chip packages end up in landfills in Canada each year.
As a bonus, the chips are dusted with all-natural, organic seasonings. “My brother-in-law is our Potato Chip Chef, and he has helped us develop the seasonings,” Alicia says. “The flavours are not overwhelming – they’re a more palatable foodie experience.”
Currently, five Humble Chip flavours include The Original, Sea Salt and Cider Vinegar, Smokey BBQ, Creamy Dill, and Honey Mustard. The chips are available at Sobeys, Urban Fresh, Safeway, Thrifty Foods, IGA Quebec, and Rachelle Bery stores.
“My first job was in the produce department at a Sobeys store in Tantallon, Nova Scotia, when I was 16 years old,” Alicia says. “So, it means a lot to me to be partnered with Sobeys – it feels like home.”