Pepsi: We’re Trying To Sell You Healthier Snacks, But You Keep Buying Cheetos

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

Pepsi, despite what you may think, really just wants to sell you health food. And it’s all ready and waiting to start putting less-fried, less-salty options in your hand. The problem, the company says? You just won’t stop buying chips.

PepsiCo isn’t just a sugary drink brand, even if the company name does immediately make you think, “the one that’s not Coke.” In addition to slinging soda, tea, and Gatorade, the company also owns the Frito-Lay, Quaker, and Tostito lines of snacks and chips. And while it’s trying to cut back on the chips in favor of lighter options, the Wall Street Journal reports, consumers just aren’t having it.

The company’s recent showings at a trade show in Atlanta made crystal clear the two directions the company is being pulled in at once, according to the WSJ. On the one hand, offerings from Quaker oatmeal, Naked juice, and Sabra hummus. On the other: the real money-makers like Doritos and Cheetos.

PepsiCo has been making gestures in the direction of less sugar and more health for ages, from setting up “healthy” option-only vending machines to cutting added sugar in drinks and even attempting to launch organic Gatorade. It’s even created “designer salt” that the company believes can provide the same amount of flavor with less sodium and waste. However, all these gestures, by and large, are not exactly making the company bank.

Still, the WSJ points out, after years of flagging, PepsiCo sales and stock are back up — but that’s largely thanks to the “traditional” fat, salt, and carb vectors everyone loves to pretend they don’t love, chips.

With Lay’s, Doritos, Cheetos, and Ruffles under its belt, PepsiCo owns four of the largest five savory snack brands. (The last one, Pringles, is owned by Kellogg.) And global sales of the top three — Lay’s, Doritos, and Cheetos — are up more than 5% in each of the last five years, according to the WSJ.

Frito-Lay’s North American snacks unit generated 52% of PepsiCo’s profit last year. In short: you may say that you’re switching to kale chips, swearing off salt, and staying away from the junk food — but the numbers tell a very different story.

PepsiCo Wants to Sell Healthy Food, Consumers Want Chips [Wall Street Journal]