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‘Veggie snacking has seen tremendous growth’, says General Mills

By Kacey Culliney , 27-Mar-2013

General Mills has thrown its weight behind mainstream veggie snacking  with two new snack lines under its Green Giant brand.

Roasted vegetable tortilla chips and multigrain sweet potato chips are the new additions under the Green Giant brand better known for frozen and canned vegetables.

“The veggie snacking segment has seen tremendous growth,” said Angela Ma, senior integrated marketing communications planner for the snacks division at General Mills.

“We saw an opportunity to further grow the segment by offering mainstream, tasty veggie snacks, made by one of the most trusted vegetable brands,” Ma told BakeryandSnacks.com.

“We wanted to bring a snack option that is flavorsome, but that families can feel good about eating.”

The rise of the vegetable chip?

The potato chip market in the US is lucrative, estimated to be worth $7.28bn in 2012 with retail volumes of 719,400 tons, according to Euromonitor data.

However, Francisco Redruello, senior food analyst at Euromonitor International, said the vegetable chips segment remains nascent. “Vegetable chips are a market niche, present mostly in mature economies in Western Europe, and to a lesser extent in North America.”

“They have proved popular among vegetarian and health-driven consumers, but the category continues to be small,” Redruello said.

Mintel data suggests that just 14% of UK consumers eat vegetable chips.

Despite this ‘early stage’, many big brands across the globe have developed and launched veggie chip variants. US brands Snyder’s Lance and Frito-Lay have launched vegetable chips through the Cape Cod and Flat Earth brands, UK hand-cooked specialist Tyrrells, European Snyder of Berlin and Asian food mega brand Yum Yum have all developed sweet potato or vegetable potato chips.

Lamine Lahousnia, head of packaged food research at Euromonitor International, said that there are clear opportunities for manufacturers with vegetable chips. "In addition to being able to position these snacks as ‘healthier’ alternatives, manufacturers are also able use the different tastes and textures of potato alternatives to create unique and exciting new products."

Lower in fat, higher in whole grain

General Mills has coined its Green Giant snacks as a better-for-you snack option given lower fat levels and high whole grain content.

It said the Sea Salt Multigrain Sweet Potato Chip has 40% less fat than regular potato chips – 6g per 28g serving instead of a regular 10g – and contains 14g of whole grain.

Its naturally flavored Zesty Cheddar Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips contain 17g of whole grain per serving.

The two products were launched nationwide at the beginning of February. Ma said that there are no current plans to expand the portfolio. “We’re currently focused on this launch and want to continue to wow consumers with a veggie snack that comes with giant flavors.”

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