And that's in addition to its testing of no-fat, olestra-based snacks in the second half of the year.
Baked Lay's is such a smash hit that it's causing product shortages nationwide. But Frito-Lay is nonetheless going full-speed to get other chips off the block, including a Reduced Fat Doritos; new flavors of Fritos and Rold Gold pretzels; and tubular-shape Dor-itos 3-Ds.
Since Frito-Lay typically spends at least $20 million on a major launch, the products potentially could pump up the marketer's snack advertising budget by $80 million.
The Baked Lay's shortage, coming only three months after national rollout, appears to have surprised even the marketer.
"We can't make them fast enough," said Lynn Markley, director-public relations, adding that the problem will be rectified by next month.
"I haven't seen any of the product [Baked Lay's] in the past few weeks," said John Catsimatidis, chairman-CEO of the Red Apple supermarket chain.
Frito-Lay executives told analysts last week they expect Baked Lay's to eventually become a $250 million brand.
Caroline Levy, a Lehman Bros. analyst, said that "70% of Frito's growth is coming from better-for-you products," adding that these types of products are luring new consumers to the salty snack category.
According to Information Resources Inc., Baked Lay's chalked up a 0.6% share of the $2.2 billion potato chip segment in food, drug and mass merchandisers for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 3-while the product was still in test.
Reduced Fat Doritos will roll out within six months, said an executive familiar with Frito-Lay's plan. The other three entries-including Doritos 3-Ds, which is now in a U.S. test market, reportedly in Eau Claire, Wis.-are under consideration for national status by the end of the year.
Ms. Markley wouldn't discuss Frito-Lay's new products or its plans for the no-fat snacks containing olestra, now branded Olean. But the company signaled its aggressive new-products program with the purchase last week of four of the five plants Anheuser-Busch sold as a consequence of folding its Eagle snack brand.
The plant purchases come on top of a $255 million investment last year for low-fat snack production.
The Olean-based entries will go up against a test product from Olean producer Procter & Gamble Co., likely under its Pringles brand name.
A P&G spokeswoman said its test also will begin in the second half of this year.
PaineWebber analyst Manny Goldman called Olean "a watershed event for Frito-Lay." The marketer has told analysts it won't be ready for rollouts of Olean-based products until 1997.
Baked Lay's has added substantial marketing clout to the entire "healthy" snack segment. SnackWell's marketer Nabisco Biscuit Co. estimates that segment is growing at a 19% clip, far outpacing overall category growth of 2%.
Nabisco is testing SnackWell's potato chips, tortilla chips and pretzels in Denver, western New York and Jacksonville, Fla.
The renewed interest in low-fat salty snacks is evidenced by P&G's Pringles Right Choice, a reduced-fat chip that, though introduced in 1981, posted a 20% volume gain last year, P&G says.
The "healthy" leader, of course, is Frito-Lay, with $207 million in sales for Reduced Fat Ruffles, Baked Lay's and Baked Tostitos in '95, IRI reported.
Pat Sloan contributed to this story.