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Seaweed and turmeric rule as hot new flavors in Frito-Lay snack survey

Seaweed and turmeric rule as hot new flavors in Frito-Lay snack survey

Seaweed chips
Seaweed chips, so green. Photo courtesy of Dora's Daily Dish

Seaweed potato chips are on the horizon, says a new survey from Plano-based Frito-Lay.

According to Frito-Lay's annual "U.S. Snack Index" survey, seaweed is a hot up-and-comer, along with middle-Eastern flavors tahini and turmeric. Globalization is the big trend, with consumers craving more flavors from their snacks and other food items.

The survey found that:

  • More than two-thirds (69 percent) say they eat globally inspired foods and flavors at least once a month
  • More than three-fourths (76 percent) like to try flavors from places and cultures that are not their own

What do we want? Global flavors. When do we want it? Now.

"What Americans choose to eat has become a complex mishmash of cultures and spices well beyond ethnic or traditional silos," says Dr. Christine Cioffe, research and development VP for Frito-Lay's parent company PepsiCo. "That's why we maintain a proprietary database of more than 1,000 global flavor variants and employ hundreds of culinary experts and scientists dedicated to exploring new tastes and flavors."

The Index also found that 74 percent of respondents are willing to try new types and flavors, rather than purchase snacks they've already had.

"It's given us a tasty challenge — to predict, respond, and adapt to rapidly expanding consumer preferences with speed and agility by leveraging technology to ensure we can get consumers exactly the snacks they want exactly where they want to buy them," says Michael Lindsey, whose title is chief transformation and strategy officer for Frito-Lay North America. You expect to read a long sentence about leveraging technology from a guy with a title like that.

Frito-Lay is also using AI technology to identify micro-markets for a flavor or product that might otherwise be missed. Is that even legal? For example, AI unveiled small market segments in the usually bland eastern U.S. that sought hot and spicy flavors.

This is an area for the South and Southwest to gloat, since those areas are more culinarily adventurous — particularly Atlanta and Houston, two cities more adventurous than the national average.

Frito-Lay has been busy creating spicy snacks to meet the need, with flavors such as mole, fried pickles, Himalayan salt, and sweet chili.

The poll was conducted between August 13-15, among a national sample of 2,200 adults.