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Snack to the future: Here’s what America is munching on in 2019

Snack to the future: Here’s what America is munching on in 2019
[Photos: 41330/Pixabay; usmanzahoor/Pixabay]

Tahini Doritos, anyone? How about Flamin’ Hot Turmeric Cheetos? Or Seaweed Ruffles? Those are some possible snacks of the future thanks to the flavors’ growing popularity.

Frito-Lay revealed the results of its annual U.S. Snack Index today, and U.S. consumers are getting more adventurous with their tastes. More than two-thirds (69%) of respondents say they chow down on some “globally inspired foods and flavors” at least once a month, and more than three-fourths (76%) like to try flavors from places and cultures that are not their own. America really is a great melting pot, at least when it comes to the snack aisle.

While Americans are willing to carbo-load on flavors from around the world, they do have a few favorites when it comes to regional flavors. Per the index, 25% like Latin American tastes like mole, chimichurri, and all things spicy, which Frito-Lay is rushing to fill with spicy chips; 14% opt for Asian flavors like red curry coconut, Himalayan salt, and sweet chili; and 18% are into culinary comfort food like fried pickles, pickled peppers, hot honey, ranch dressing, and cheese in chip form.

The globalization of flavor is turning the food industry upside down, and Frito-Lay’s culinary experts and food scientists are trying to meet the growing desire for sweet chili chips and chimichurri Cheetos. If tahini-flavored Lay’s do make it to a convenience store shelf, you may have AI to thank for it. Frito-Lay, like other snack and food companies, is turning to technology to help keep up with those newfangled flavors, including using AI to predict, respond to, and adapt to rapidly evolving consumer preferences.

“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,” said Michael Lindsey, chief transformation and strategy officer at Frito-Lay North America. “We believe it’s our job to develop and deliver snacks that equally delight a niche community as well as a mass crowd.”

Whether an AI comes up with it or not, there’s Sweet Chili Munchos and Tahini Funyuns would be a hit.

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