PepsiCo's Frito-Lay division debuted a line of better-for-you snack chips at the recent Natural Products Expo West event. The items are packaged under a brand called Off the Eaten Path and are made with rice, black beans, chickpeas and other less-processed ingredients, according to Food Business News.
The new lineup is labeled as containing no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and is designed to deliver complex and exotic flavors preferred by millennial consumers, the company said. The tagline for the new brand is, "Snacks for the curious."
Snacks are a bright spot for PepsiCo, whose most recent earnings report showed that sales of Frito-Lay, Doritos and Cheetos were up by 5% in the fourth quarter. The snack sector is consistently outpacing beverages, which has been a core business for the company.
In introducing snack chips with healthier ingredients, PepsiCo and Frito-Lay are right on trend. Snacking is one of the most popular categories in the retail marketplace today, racking up $33 billion in sales in 2017, according to Nielsen data.
Snacking and grab-and-go convenience foods have become the norm for many busy consumers — a trend that hasn't gone unnoticed by brand marketers and retailers. Half of adults snack two to three times a day, and 70% believe that any food can be a snack, according to a recent Mintel report.
Better-for-you ingredients are helping to drive this growth. Non-GMO label claims resulted in 18.2% higher sales from 2013 to 2016, 16.2% more for snack products without artificial colors or flavors, and 11.3% more for products advertising no sugar or reduced sugar levels.
Adding this new Off the Eaten Path brand is another way for PepsiCo to differentiate its better-for-you lineup from Frito-Lay's familiar portfolio of Fritos, Cheetos, Doritos, Tostitos, Lay's, Ruffles and Rold Gold. However, PepsiCo has been developing healthier versions of those classics as well that limit sodium and saturated fat and add more fiber, whole grains, vegetables and protein.
The snack chips weren't the only new items PepsiCo introduced at Expo West. The company also brought out a line of Naked brand fruit, nut and veggie snack bars — a big departure from that label's traditional juices and smoothies.
The company's Frito-Lay division also announced that it will be bringing out a snack brand lineup for children called Imag!ne this summer. These products are said to be Non-GMO Project-verified and will include yogurt crisps and cheese stars. Such developments seem to be a savvy way for PepsiCo to capture new business and keep existing fans interested by innovating familiar products and introducing health-focused snacks.