Frito-Lay homes in on health workers

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The world's largest snack marketer hopes to land on the right side of the obesity debate by marketing its more "sensible snacks" directly to health professionals.

Since early 2002, PepsiCo's Frito-Lay unit has been working with Cooper Aerobic Institute founder Dr. Kenneth Cooper on the development of a healthier snack portfolio to cater to public demand and counter public outcry (AA, Sept. 2, 2002). As it continues its push in this arena, with the introduction of Rold Gold Heartzels (the first-ever American Heart Association-certified salty snack), a vitamin-fortified Munchies Kids Mix and a new low-carb line dubbed Edge, Frito-Lay is spreading the word via medical conventions, brochures and ads in dietary guides created in-house with the assistance of Ketchum, New York.

"Health professionals are very trusted by consumers, and we want to help them help consumers place [Frito-Lay] products in their lives," said Tracy LaRosiliere, VP-marketing of Frito-Lay's Sensible Snacks division. The unit has been one of the company's major drivers, with sales growth of 18% in 2003, according to Dr. Cooper. Frito-Lay characterized sales of the division as "healthy," but would not elaborate.

Frito-Lay will sponsor conferences of the American Dietetic Association and Physicians Assistants this year among others, offering information about snacks including Rold Gold pretzels, Baked versions of Lay's, Ruffles and Doritos and a new Natural and Organic line. A Web site, SnackSense.com, is aimed at health-care professionals.

print efforts

Frito-Lay internally has developed print ads directed at health-care professionals, including one for a dietary resource guide, Cardiac Directions and Diabetic Outlook Patient Education Program, that features its Baked products and suggests, "Eat sensibly without giving up your favorite snacks!"

A print effort toward health professionals will likely be part of the marketing plan for new Rold Gold Heartzels, which contain no saturated fat or cholesterol, less sodium than regular pretzels and is fortified as "a good source of fiber and iron." Heartzels packages will feature the AHA's "Heart-check mark," and Frito-Lay plans to sample the product at 60 of the organization's local Heart Walks.

At a recent Cardio Medical Conference in Houston, Dr. Cooper addressed 200 physicians, and said that "Frito-Lay's cost of removing 55 million pounds of trans fat over the next 12 months and maintaining the taste of their products is $37 million."

According to Dr. Cooper, nine Frito-Lay items currently meet his "Class 1" standards of having fewer than 150 calories and less than 3 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat and 250 grams of sodium per serving, a standard that is depicted on-package with a"Smart Snack" logo.

PepsiCo is also pushing its healthier Aquafina and Tropicana beverages as well as new lower-calorie vitamin-fortified Snapple Synergy to the health community and to school food-service operators, bundling the portfolio together under a Wellward Choices banner.

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