Expo West 2016

New line of Ridges, packaging refresh gives popchips a leg up on conventional competition

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: E.Crawford
Source: E.Crawford

Related tags Potato

Ruffles may have ridges, but now so too do popchips – and with significantly less fat and fewer calories than the conventional competitor the better-for-you brand is in a strong position to capture today’s more health-conscious consumer. 

Beginning in June, popchips will roll out to retailers nationwide four flavors of Ridges – a classic salted chip that is ideal for dips, a tangy barbeque, cheddar & sour cream and a chili cheese, which has surprised company executives as a dark horse that is the favorite of consumers so far, CEO Dave Ritterbush told FoodNavigator-USA at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif., where the launch was announced.

He explained that the new line of Ridges popchips have the same big crunch and thick texture that makes conventional ridged potato chips so craveable, but thanks to popchips’ proprietary high-heat and –pressure process the chips are made with only about a tablespoon of oil compared to the a cup used by conventional methods.

This means Ridges have 72% less fat and 55% fewer calories than the leading ridged chip brand – making them far more appealing to consumers who increasingly want healthier snack options, Ritterbush said.

He added that unlike with some other better-for-you chips that are baked or puffed, consumers don’t have to sacrifice the loud crunch and texture of conventional chips with the new line of Ridges popchips.

“There really isn’t anything like this in the better-for-you space,”​ as illustrated by research conducted by the company that found seven out of 10 better-for-you shoppers were seeking more crunch in their snacks, he said.

He added that in blinded taste tests conducted by the company – and then again independently by bloggers and food influencers – many consumers actually preferred the taste and texture of popchips Ridges compared to conventional ridged competitors.

The ridges also provide more structure to the chips, making them even better vehicles for scooping sauces and dips, and because they have more surface area than original chips they deliver a bolder flavor profile that many consumers today want, Ritterbush said.

In addition, the new line ticks many boxes at which modern consumers look, including gluten-free, kosher, no artificial preservatives, no synthetic colors, no cholesterol and no trans fat, he said.

New packaging to accompany new chips

Along with a new line of Ridges, popchips also will introduce new packaging this summer to better differentiate the Ridges from the original popchips.

The new packs will feature photos of the chips across the top for fast identification. The Ridges also will be in prominently black packages compared to the original chips, which will be in mostly white bags  to better highlight the differences.

In addition, for both lines the flavor will be prominently displayed in the middle with a color-coded side panel that will better place the flavor “front and center,”​ Ritterbush said.

Back to the company’s core mission

The new line and packaging are part of a larger effort by popchips to bring the brand back to its core goal of providing a delicious, better-for-you potato chip, Ritterbush said.

He explained that as part of that effort, the company also has streamlined its portfolio – dropping some SKUs, including tortilla chips, that were not as unique or complimentary of popchips’ proprietary processing methods.

“You never really want to see a product line discontinued, so I don’t really feel good about that, but I feel really good about what we’re replacing it with. We’ve never been more excited than we are about the Ridges that are coming out today,”​ Ritterbush said.

He added that since the company has returned to its core mission of being a brand that is both good and good for you, it has become one of the fastest growing brands again – allowing it to take back its leadership position in the better for you chip category.

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