Lay’s-PepsiCo sees ‘huge opportunities’ for premium potato chips in Argentina

By Sorrel Moseley-Williams

- Last updated on GMT

Pablo García - General Manager PepsiCo Alimentos Argentina
Pablo García - General Manager PepsiCo Alimentos Argentina
While Argentina’s salted-snack consumption is low at one kilo per person compared with the nine kilos in the US in 2017, the market has plenty of potential, says Pablo García, general manager for foods at PepsiCo Argentina.

“Latin America’s southern cone, comprising Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, has large development when it comes to potato chips and the segment represents half of Argentina’s salted-snack market. Our research shows there is a large group of people looking to try new products from wine to ice-cream – and salted snacks,” ​says García.

Portafolio Lay's Sabores

Taking advantage of this interest, the company launched four flavors in Argentina in 2017 under its Lay’s branding. Mostaza Suave (light mustard) and Tomate y Cebolla (tomato and onion) reached store shelves in In November, while in June 2017, it focused on the classic Argentine asado​, launching flavor related with this social barbecue gathering: Picada, which emulates the taste of charcuterie at an asado​ and Barbacoa (barbecue). But, he says, trends in Argentina go beyond flavors.

“We’re seeing see huge opportunities in developing the premium segment, because consumers now value texture. In response to that, we launched the first kettle chip in Argentina under Lay’s gourmet line, which has a harder texture compared with other chips. That’s seeing good response from consumers in their 30s with good incomes who value premium propositions.

“Another trend is using root vegetables such as sweet potatoes: Colors and textures gives us an edge with consumers,”​ adds García.

Success with Doritos

Doritos Inferno

One recent success story aimed at the teen market has been hot flavors under the Doritos line. “Given that Doritos is a huge brand aimed at teens, who play games, in 2017 we launched Roulette where one in every six or seven chips is extra hot. That adds playability to the snack.”

The firm upped the spice ante the same year with two additional flavors joining the Doritos family – Jalapeño extremo (extreme jalapeño) and Taco en llamas (flaming tacos).

PepsiCo Argentina doesn’t just target its consumers with new products, however; it also wants to educate them. Back in summer 2011, the company unveiled a six-month campaign around the country in the shape of potato-chip vending machines to increase awareness that Lay’s products are made from real potatoes.

García says: “We buy more than 50,000 tons of potatoes in Argentina every year, which makes us a relevant player in the potato market; regardless, many Argentines thought Lay’s products weren’t sourced from real potatoes.

“The concept behind the vending machine was for people to have fun with the product: located at cities around the country, our staff would give people a real potato, they’d place it in the machine and convert it into a bag of Lay’s that were still warm, to enhance the experience. The vending machine was a clever idea, within a food program, that increased awareness that they come from real potatoes, combined with a fun experience. And the perception in consumption, by telling the truth, was huge.”

As for the coming year, PepsiCo Argentina plans to build upon its gourmet brands. García adds: “We started 2018 launching gourmet snacks; we plan to leverage that this year.”

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