The on-the-go healthy snack

Colombian entrepreneur and CEO of Austria-based Selectum, Camilo Wolff, always dreamed of creating a healthy new snack that even his kids would love. That is exactly what he did in 2019 with Bühler. The two companies developed Paddies, small crunchy wafer pillows with a creamy filling that taste great and are high in protein, low in fat, and gluten- and palm oil-free. 


Selectum’s time to market was lightning speed. Just 9 months from development, Paddies were being sold at supermarkets across Europe and beyond – a success story driven by Camilo Wolff’s vision and fueled by his experiences. “The people in the region I grew up in are known for their entrepreneurial attitude,” he explains. “Being surrounded by that energy had a big influence on me.” He was born in Medellín in Colombia, the capital of the country’s mountainous Antioquia province, nicknamed the City of Eternal Spring for its idyllic weather, but also known for its many enterprising citizens.  


Before starting his own company, the industrial engineer worked in technical sales for customers in Europe. This eventually led him to the former Haas Group, the Austrian producer of wafer, biscuits, and confectionery production systems that Bühler acquired in 2017. When he started working at Haas, Wolff was responsible for sales in Latin America and opened a new office in Colombia for  the company. He explains that the combination of his technical sales skills and deep understanding of the cultural background of customers was key to the success of Haas in the country while providing him with vital experience for his future.  

“Opening a new office in Colombia to expand the business in the region was one of the best experiences I have had in my professional life. Searching for the right place, choosing the right team, creating the right office atmosphere, etc. These are all things that helped me later in starting my own company Selectum GmbH in Austria in 2019,” he explains. 

The idea behind the start-up was to create a new category of snack that had various health benefits and was different to what was available on the market. Wolff saw huge potential in the snack market as most conventional snacks, such as chips or nachos, are

 fried and high in fat. He knew that many of today’s modern consumers are spoiled for choice when it comes to snacks, but they are also increasingly health conscious and keen for something new.

But Wolff did not want to create just another healthy snack that would be sold in the health food section of supermarkets. As the father of two sons, aged 15 and 9, he is aware that young people are not especially impressed with what he calls “the green stuff”, and they don’t go to this section to search for snacks. With this in mind, he wanted to create a fun product that would appeal to people of all ages and be healthier at the same time.  He was inspired to make wafer pillow shapes with a dip inside, so that people could snack on the go and not get their hands dirty. This was something he had not seen on the market before. 

“I wanted to bring a new product to the market with wafer technology – an innovative, healthier snack; a snack that is gluten-free, palm oil-free, that is not fried, with 40 percent less fat than chips and nachos, and, on top of that, with a high protein content,” Wolff explains. “To develop this product, I approached Bühler, as I knew they have the expertise and a technical laboratory for product development trials.”  


Hundreds of trials for the perfect taste

Wolff has many years of experience working in the food sector, but he did not have enough know-how in product development to create a completely new recipe. Through his work with Haas and later Bühler, he was very familiar with the Wafer Innovation Center at Leobendorf, outside Vienna. He knew the food technologists at the center would have the expertise he was looking for and approached them to help create Paddies.  


Selectum_2 Selectum_2 Between 3,000 to 3,500 packages of Paddies are produced per hour ¬ that’s about 1.5 million packages a month.


The center has a state-of-the-art laboratory, fully equipped with all the necessary solutions to carry out tests and trials. It offers special services to start-ups like Selectum, supporting them all the way from idea creation until after the product is running on the production line. Wolff had precise requirements for his snack: it needed to be protein- and nutrient-rich. His idea was at once taken up by Bühler experts. They began the development process in March 2019. For nearly a year they conducted hundreds of recipe trials and tasting sessions to develop the batter and the cream. 

For the base, the experts tried different high-in-protein flours. They had to find the perfect texture to match the taste profiles. Richard Haubenberger, Food Technologist at the Bühler Wafer Innovation Center, led the development process and was up for the challenge of finding just the right mix for this on-the-go snack concept. 

It was a challenge to find the right raw materials. But thanks to our experience and the collaboration with our suppliers, we found the right ingredients for the best recipe.

RICHARD HAUBENBERGER , Food Technologist at Bühler


Selectum_3 Selectum_3 Bühler helped in developing the batter recipe for the new snack. Haubenberger and Wolff check the batter consistency for production.

“The first challenge was to find the right ingredients to us. We were working with different starches, such as gluten-free wheat strach, rice starch, and corn starch. We investigated rice flour and chickpea flour, which has the benefit of higher protien levels,”  explains Haubenberger. “It was a challenge to find the right raw materials. However, thanks to our experience and the collaboration with our suppliers, we found the right ingredients for the best recipe.” 

The process of developing the cream involved a lot of mixing,tasting and changing of the ingredients. Somtimes it was changed by 20 percent or 50 percent by adding something different. Once they had created a variety of recipes, Bühler experts held sessions at which they picked out 10, tasted them, and then decided on the recipe that they would continue to improve. The experts held about five rounds before deciding on the perfect cream.

Wolff, of course, took part in every tasting session to ensure that his dream snack would taste exactly as he had imagined. Bühler supported him every step of the way. “At the center, we have colleagues who know taste profiles extremely well and bring together many years of experience in the field. After we made final decisions with Camilo, he and his team organized some consumer tasting sessions as well,” Haubenberger explains.

I wanted to bring a new product to the market with wafer technology – an innovative, healthier snack. A snack that is gluten- and palm oil-free, that is not fried, with less fat, and with a high protein content.


Nine months later, Paddies were born. The first Paddies had a cheese cream filling inside. The main innovation in Paddies was the use of rice and chickpea flour in combination to get the consistency and the viscosity right for the batter. This gives the snack the crispy texture while it remains easy to process and not too thick.

“We put a lot of spices in the batter that you do not find a lot in snacks. Normally our machines are used for sweet products,” Haubenberger explains. “But we went a step further: We put spices in this  dip, and we put a bit of cheese powder in the wafer, so the product is very aromatic.” 


Baked with zero emissions

Wolff had another requirement: He wanted to produce Paddies sustainably. And Bühler had the ideal solution for him – the Franz Haas EWB inductive oven. The EWB inductive oven is 100 percent powered by electrical energy – it uses no gas whatsoever.  Therefore, no CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere in the baking step from burning the gas. It also has higher energy efficiency compared to the gas-heated EWB. With Bühler’s optional power pack for the EWB inductive oven combined, with a few changes in the dimensions, customers have the option of increasing the output capacity of the EWB inductive oven to adapt the production output perfectly to their respective requirements. 

selectum_5 selectum_5 Paddies are marketed as a fun and tasty snack. These little Paddies are best enjoyed on the go.

Using electricity rather than gas eliminates Scope 1 emissions in baking that occur from sources that are controlled by the company. The Scope 2 emissions are indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the purchase of electricity, steam, heat, or cooling. Scope 2 can be reduced by sourcing renewable energy, and thereby reducing CO2 emissions. 

“The inductive heating system has a lot of benefits in comparison to a standard gas-fired wafer stick oven, as there are no direct CO2 emissions created by gas firing,” explains Emanuel Hoeckner, Product Manager at Bühler. “The electricity-powered oven removes all Scope 1 emissions from burning the gas in the baking step, which makes the entire process much more sustainable.” 

The development process of Paddies was not without its challenges. It was a completely new product with new ingredients, such as chickpea flour, that had not been handled in the EWB before. The baking ring inside the oven reacted to the spices and the salinity of the products. This led the baking ring to corrode.

But the Bühler experts found a solution in a new special coating for the baking ring. “We learned from the challenges we faced, and were able to introduce new options and new features to our portfolio to offer more solutions to our customers,” Hoeckner says.

The 500 m2 Selectum factory is based in Wolkersdorf, Austria, where Wolff currently employs 10 people. It was built in 2019 and its complete process line comes from Bühler. The capacity of one production line is currently around 100 to 150 kilograms of product per hour, depending on the amount of cream inside. For 30-gram packages, the capacity is around 3,000 to 3,500 packages per hour and around 1.5 million packages per month.


Snack and smile

Currently Paddies come in three flavors – cheese, toffee, and peanut butter, all with a dip inside. They all have more protein and fiber, are not fried, and therefore have less fat. Paddies are already available on the shelves of Billa supermarkets in Austria and are sold in Germany, Kuwait, Finland, Hungary, and Poland. Paddies are easy to spot on the supermarket shelves, as they come in blue, pink, and yellow fluorescent packaging. The wrapper prominently features a big smile on it and is designed to look inviting. “We went for this packaging because the smile and tongue symbolize exactly what we want to convey – indulgence and fun. Our slogan is snack and smile,” explains Kristina Benkotic, who is responsible for marketing at Selectum. In addition to its own snack brand, Selectum also offers private label production, whereby customers can commission their own crispy pillow variations based on the Paddies model. Selectum already has several private label customers in Austria, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Saudi Arabia. Examples of its private product are Biogena Moments - Immun Bites, a new nutraceutical snack, and NEOH Choco Bites, which are filled with NEOH’s own zero-sugar cream.

Selectum_6_CEO_Camilo Wolff Selectum_6_CEO_Camilo Wolff Camilo Wolff ,CEO of Selectum
I feel immensely proud of the product. We came to the market as a start-up, and we are already selling our product internationally. Two years ago, it was just an idea.


Selectum’s success has been recognized by experts in the food industry. “We presented our product in the ISM Cologne fair in Germany at the beginning of 2021 and received an award as the second most innovative product of the year,” says Wolff. “This prize raised our profile internationally. I feel immensely proud of the product. We came to the market as a start-up, and we are already selling our product internationally. Two years ago, it was just an idea. Seeing your own development, your idea of a name, packaging, and product taste come to life and then be sold by several retailers, and already in many countries, makes me incredibly happy.” 

Wolff is also very pleased that he had Bühler assisting him along the way. “Bühler has been a very good partner. Because we were using gluten-free flours and a protein cream that is not completely standard, it was necessary to make several modifications in the production line,” he says. “Bühler supported us all the way.” 


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