Category Archives: salty snacks

PepsiCo Charts Healthier, More Environment-Friendly Path

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In one of the boldest, bravest and most extensive commitments a food industry company has made with the intent of “meeting changing consumer and societal needs,” PepsiCo announced Oct. 17 that a sizable share of its massive product range – marketed under a staggering assortment of brand names – will have their sugar, saturated fat and sodium content drastically reduced by the year 2025.

The Purchase, New York-based company simultaneously announced plans to reduce its environment impact and “to empower people around the world.”

The company

  • Plans to continue transforming its product portfolioby offering healthier food and beverage choices, reduce its environmental impact and empower people around the world
  • At leasttwo-thirds of PepsiCo beverages expected to contain 100 calories or fewer from added sugar per 12-oz serving by 2025,with increased focus on zero- and lower-calorie products
  • Targeting 15% improvement in water efficiency of itsdirect agricultural supply chain in high water-risk areas by 2025 – saving the equivalent of total water used in PepsiCo’s manufacturing operations
  • Seeking 20%reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the company’s value chain, including its agricultural supply, by 2030
  • In partnership with PepsiCo Foundation, plans toinvest $100 million supporting initiatives to benefit at least 12.5 million women and girls around the world

A company press statement said, “These new initiatives continue PepsiCo’s decade-long commitment to delivering Performance with Purpose, a pioneering vision launched in 2006 rooted in the fundamental belief that business success is inextricably linked to the sustainability of the world we share.

“To succeed in today’s volatile and changing world, corporations must do three things exceedingly well: focus on delivering strong financial performance, do it in a way that is sustainable over time and be responsive to the needs of society,” said PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi. “The first ten years of PepsiCo’s Performance with Purpose journey have demonstrated what is possible when a company does well by also doing good. We have created significant shareholder value, while taking important steps to address environmental, health and social priorities all around the world.”

“PepsiCo’s journey is far from complete, and our new goals are designed to build on our progress and broaden our efforts,” Nooyi continued. “We have mapped our plans against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and we believe the steps we are taking will help lift PepsiCo to even greater heights in the years ahead. Companies like PepsiCo have a tremendous opportunity – as well as a responsibility – to not only make a profit, but to do so in a way that makes a difference in the world.”

Parents Get Baked Junk Food Banned From Schools

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A parents group in the Montgomery County, Maryland school district has been struggling, cajoling, begging and fighting hard to improve the quality of food served – and made available, ala carte – to students in their area’s schools.

They recently had a noteworthy success, first reported on their own Real Food For Kids – Montgomery (RFKM) web site then, for good measure, on the wonderful web site called The Lunch Tray.

The latter, a creation of Bettina Elias Siegel, does nationally what the RFKM folks do a mere few miles from the headquarters the federal agency – the U.S. Department of Agriculture – that could be doing more than it already is to boost the quality of what kids are given to eat in schools.

The RFKM folks have managed to convince their school district to eliminate Baked Doritos and Baked Cheetos from the list of foods kids can choose from an ala carte menu. Their argument was, simply, that these products, as TheLunchBox.com put it, “are so-called “copycat snacks” –  i.e., junk foods tweaked to meet the USDA’s new Smart Snacks nutritional standards but which otherwise look just like their less-healthy supermarket counterparts.

“Specifically, in this case, Cheetos and Doritos sold at school (in cafeterias and for fundraising) are baked instead of fried, [and] have a reduced fat content and are considered ‘whole-grain rich’.”

The LunchBox.com article continued:

RFKM particularly objected to these snacks because they contain certain artificial food dyes and other additives which the group has deemed problematic. According to a quote in RFKM’s newsletter, the head of the district’s nutrition services department agrees, saying “Cheetos and Doritos were products that we elected to remove for sale because the ingredient label had such a plethora of additives and preservatives. We are continuously seeking to purchase food and beverages with cleaner labels.”

This is a nice victory for RFKM parents, but the group’s experience is also instructive for all parents seeking to make change in their district’s school food program.

According to the RFKM newsletter, the group first requested that the district ditch various food additives three years ago. It then doggedly kept on top of the issue in an organized fashion, refusing to give up even after various set-backs. Here’s the group’s own account:

RFKM first brought the issue of food additives to the attention of MCPS in 2013. In response to a parent petition and testimonies before the Board of Education in June of 2014, MCPS developed a policy prohibiting from future bids for school food many of the chemicals that RFKM had requested be removed (including MSG, trans fat, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Aspartame, Acesulfame-Potassium, Saccharin, Butylated Hydroxyanisol (BHA), Potassium Bromate, Propyl Gallate, Sodium Tripoly Phoshate, and TBHQ). However, right before that policy was put into effect, a 3-year contract for a la carte foods, many of which contain these additives, was signed by MCPS. Last March, RFKM helped pass a resolution through the Montgomery County Council of PTAs asking, among other things, that MCPS not serve foods with artificial food dyes.

In the meantime, at many individual schools, parent representatives of RFKM had stepped forward to ask for healthier a la carte options. As a consequence, some schools, such as Somerset Elementary School . . . had already replaced Cheetos and Doritos with 51% whole grain pita chips, SmartFood Popcorn and Tostitos, all clean label products with whole grains. However, almost all MPCS middle and high schools, and many elementary schools continued to sell these chips until this year. While Doritos and Cheetos may not have disappeared completely (there are reports that they are still available in vending machines), we are thankful to MPCS for making them less accessible to students by removing them from a la carte options. And we look forward to the time when no MCPS foods will contain artificial colors and other harmful ingredients.

The upshot, TheLunchbox.com reported:

Reforming school food from the grassroots level is not always easy. It often takes considerable persistence, time, effort and some highly dedicated individuals to coordinate the campaign. And, as my recent, dispiriting experience in Houston ISD well illustrated, even after requested reforms are implemented, parents may still need to act as watch dogs to make sure their district doesn’t backslide on its promises.

Kudos to RFKM for its continued progress. You can read more about the group’s history and mission here.”

This is a mission that should be taken up elsewhere – in a lot of ‘elsewheres’ . . . school districts across the U.S. (and elsewhere in the world).

Stressed? Bored? Go For Salty Snacks – or Don’t, For Your Health

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Stressed out Americans are driving the US salty snack market to new heights, with 62% of Americans consuming salty snacks as a stress-reliever – up from 16% a year ago—according to new research from Mintel.

The report says more than 30% of consumers eat salty snacks when they are bored – that being, coincidentally, a frequent contributor to stress – and up from 25% eating salty snacks as a boredom-reliever a year earlier.

Where are salty snacks consumers indulging themselves? Mintel reports that 33% of those surveyed eat them away from home, 26% and eat them while at work. As that amounts to only 59% of the study group, one night assume – from the provided information – 41% of salty snack eaters, in this group, anyway, randomly absorb them while so distracted they have no clue where they are at the time they do so.

Smokers similarly report that doing so serves to relieve stress or boredom, or both. In both examples, though, the relief could be cut-short by high blood pressure (in the case of the snacks) and cancer (linked to smoking).

While it more than likely is no longer true that teens who smoke are parented by smokers, it once was largely a given: Non-smoking parents, back in the whimsical ‘day’, often abstained for either religious or deeply-held health reasons.

Still, it is interesting to note, as Mintel did, while 35% of parents indulge in salty snacks apace with their kids, 73% of parents (vs. 55% of non-parents) support the contention that salty snack-eating is a stress reliever.

 

With 94 percent of Americans purchasing salty snacks and 13 percent replacing meals with them, Mintel research reveals that three quarters (74 percent) of consumers are interested in healthier salty snacking options. Along these lines, another three in five (61 percent) agree that salty snacks have too many artificial ingredients, while four in five (79 percent) find it important to be able to recognize the ingredients in salty snacks. What’s more, 58 percent of salty snack purchasers agree that it is important to buy salty snacks that contain only a few ingredients.

Despite interest in healthier options, taste trumps all when choosing salty snacks: three in five (62 percent) consumers agree that taste is more important than how healthy a salty snack is. In fact, a new flavor (38 percent) is the most influential purchasing factor for American salty snackers, along with spicy flavor (30 percent) and limited-edition/seasonal flavor (22 percent). Taste remains a key purchase factor as consumers tend to view snacking as a guilty pleasure (69 percent) and indulge in salty snacking as a way to reward themselves (63 percent).

However, taste and health are not polarizing Americans, as four in five (82 percent) consumers agree that salty snacks can be both healthy and tasty.

“Consumption of salty snacks is largely driven by emotion, including stress and boredom. Consumers are looking for ways to manage their wellbeing, and the impact of food on emotional and mental health is becoming more important. Our research reveals this is especially true among parents, with the majority agreeing that salty snacks relieve stress,” said Amanda Topper, Senior Food Analyst at Mintel. “Not only do parents’ hectic lifestyles force them to snack while on the go, but the majority who buy salty snacks agree that snacking throughout the day is a healthy alternative to regular meals. Brands that highlight health and wellness benefits can appeal to parents that are often buying snacks that can be consumed by themselves and their children.”

“Striking a balance between good tasting and good for you is key for salty snack brands. While consumers are concerned about ingredients and express interest in seeing healthier options on shelves, they still want to indulge, and flavor is a highly motivating factor. Brands that focus on products with bold, new flavors that incorporate simple ingredients will offer the best of both worlds to consumers,” continued Topper.

With consumers looking to balance simplicity and indulgence, meat snacks are driving the salty snacks category, comprising 30 percent of retail sales. From 2010-15, sales of meat snacks grew faster than any other segment (55 percent), benefiting from consumers who are looking for fewer ingredients and healthy options. Mintel research indicates that consumers are more likely to look for no artificial ingredients (22%), organic (17 percent) and high protein (33 percent) claims on meat snacks than any other salty snack.

Overall, the salty snacks category grew 29 percent from 2010-15, reaching $10.2 billion, with sales projected to climb an additional 22 percent to $12.4 billion in 2020.

“Recent innovations in flavor and format have helped to spur sales of meat snacks, which are largely perceived as a natural snack food with clean ingredients. Future growth of the burgeoning meat snacks segment, and the salty snacks category overall, will hinge on brands continuing to identify and adapt to consumers’ better-for-you interests and remain transparent in the ingredients they are adding and removing from snacks,” concluded Topper.