7 Salty-Snack Companies Cranking Out Innovation


The salty snack category is adding some pizzazz to its arsenal, along with clean, functional ingredients for those seeking healthy snacks.

With products ranging from fun to functional, the category is experiencing a performance bounce. Dollar sales rose 6% to $5.87 billion for the 52-week period ending Dec. 29, 2019, according to data from Chicago-based IRI. Units, meanwhile, dropped 0.7%.

The fun aspects of the category are reflected in initiatives such as the Smile With Lay’s bag campaign, which will return this fall after the brand carries out a nationwide search for the smiles that will ultimately emboss its potato chip bags. Smile With Lay’s allows consumers to vote for authentic individual smiles that warrant recognition—and inclusion on a snack bag.

More fun comes via Cheetos Popcorn, which is being infused with so-called “cheetle,” the proprietary red- and orange-dusted hue that makes Cheetos iconic. “We’re always looking for ways to help [consumers] step up their snacking game,” said Brandi Ray, senior director of marketing for Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay North America Inc. “The only way to truly take popcorn to the next level is to add cheetle, the cheesy dust that will entice Cheetos fans to snack on this popcorn all year long.”

Functional ingredients also are making their way into salty snacks, adding a touch of healthy to the segment. One example is the debut of Chifles Plantain Shells, a healthier-for-you snack that’s 100% vegan and gluten-free, with a hint of salt. Chifles Plantain Shells “turn the savory notes of the iconic Miami snack into a versatile option,” the company says. With 30% less fat than traditional potato chips, the product “is the perfect synthesis of chip and function, and the perfect bridge between cultures,” said Chifles President Antonio Rivas Jr.

Click through for a sampling of seven new salty snacks that have come to retail over the past several months.

Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Lay’s

lays chips

Creating some excitement in anticipation of “Smiles” 2020, three new Lay’s flavors are now available: Cheddar Jalapeno (sharp cheddar and a kick of jalapeno), Poppables Sea Salt & Vinegar (the tang of vinegar balanced by an airy, crispy texture) and Kettle Cooked Flamin’ Hot (a fiery chili pepper flavor). As part of Smile With Lay’s packaging campaign, visitors to the Smilewithlays.com website can nominate themselves to appear on future bags or nominate someone else for their authentic smiles to be embossed at the top of Lay’s bags.

Photograph courtesy of Lay’s

2. Moon Cheese

moon cheese

Moon Cheese from NutraDried Food Co. has announced a new packaging design, new names for three existing varieties and the debut of two new varieties: Garlickin’ Parmesan and Cheddar Bacon Me Crazy. New monikers have been applied to what are now called Cheddar Believe It, Oh My Gouda, and Get Pepper Jacked SKUs. Moon Cheese contains more than 10 grams of protein, no sugar and less than 2 grams of carbs per 1-ounce serving.

Photograph courtesy of Moon Cheese

3. Chifles


Chifles (pronounced CHIEF-les) produces a variety of tasty treats that offer a healthier alternative to traditional potato chips, according to the company. The brand is adding new Chifles Plantain Shells to its existing line of cassava chips. Chifles Plantain Shells are a first-of-its-kind, modern-day twist on bold, crunchy plantain chips. With 30% less fat than traditional potato chips, plantain shells have a golden hue and crisped curvatures that make them ideal snacks that bring versatility and heritage to taste buds, the supplier says.

Photograph courtesy of Chifles

4. Cheetos


Cheetos Popcorn is infused with what the company has dubbed “cheetle,” the orange powder that coats its snacks. The ready-to-eat popcorn brings the taste of Cheetos seasoning and fuses it into popcorn applications—essentially swapping butter and salt for cheesy and spicy flavoring. Available in two flavors—Cheddar and Flamin’ Hot—Cheetos Popcorn is available in 7-ounce Cheddar bags and 6.5-ounce Flamin’ Hot bags for an SRP of $3.99, with 2-ounce bags for an SRP of $1.89.

Photograph courtesy of Cheetos

5. Goldfish


Launched in March, Goldfish Veggie Crackers come in two kid-friendly flavors: Cheesy Tomato, which contains one-third of a serving of tomatoes, with color from tomato, beet juice concentrate and annatto; and Sweet Carrot, which contains one-third of a serving of carrots, with color from carrot and paprika extract. Both flavors are free from artificial flavors and preservatives. They have an SRP of $2.49.

Photograph courtesy of Goldfish

6. Taco Bell

taco bell

Reaper Ranch Tortilla Chips have joined Taco Bell’s lineup of chip offerings, which includes Classic, Mild, Fire and Diablo flavors. The latest flavor is infused with one of the world’s hottest peppers, the Carolina Reaper, as well as a cool blast of ranch. Limited-edition Reaper Ranch Tortilla Chips are available in 3.5- and 9.25-ounce bags.

Photograph courtesy of Taco Bell

7. Pressels


Pressels from Dream Pretzels LLC have the flavor of traditional pretzels but are pressed during baking for an extra-crispy and crunchy experience, the company says. The baked snack is low in fat and is vegan and Non-GMO Project verified. Four varieties are available in 7.1-ounce bags: Sea Salt, Everything, Sesame and Sriracha.

Photograph courtesy of Pressels