Tortilla chip industry keeps growing: What factors influence it?

Illustration of tortilla chips
Olivia Staser/Staff

The tortilla chip industry continues to flourish — let’s explore the booming industry. Aware of today’s upbeat tortilla chip trends, innovative manufacturers have been testing new flavors and ingredients to make their products stand out in the market. A staple of Mexican cuisine, these chips, seasoned with herbs and spices and normally served with dips, have now become a favorite snack worldwide.

Take a look at these appalling figures. In 2018, the global tortilla chip industry was estimated at about $20.2 billion. Stakeholders expect a compound annual growth rate of 4.41% from last year until 2025. According to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and Simmons National Consumer Survey, more than 231 million Americans consumed tortilla and corn chips and cheese snacks in 2019. This figure is expected to rise to 237 million by 2023. Based on the most recent analysis of tortilla chip trends, the global tortilla chip market will have a value of more than $12,324 million by 2028. Latin America is still the market leader with regard to value shares, gaining a revenue share of more than 48% since 2017.

Changing lifestyles are what seem to drive growth and demand for tortillas in the global market. Many tortilla chip makers promote their commodities by way of endorsements, along with advertisements on TV and in print publications, to carve out a maximum share in the market.

Another factor attributed to growth is the use of new flavors, as well as organic, gluten-free and low-fat chips. The health benefits of these chips allowed the tortilla chip industry to push into new niches. Systematic retail techniques, which facilitate the creation of new delectable snacks for consumers, can also push the acceptance of tortillas in the near future. Additional growth contributors are novelties initiated by suppliers of tortilla chip ingredients.

It boils down to implementing the right niche marketing approaches and promotional strategies by chip companies to attract potential customers. Since online shopping has emerged as a fad worldwide, crafty manufacturers of snacks have shifted to advertise their goods on the internet and through social media platforms.

In view of the evolving tortilla consumption statistics and tortilla chip trends, manufacturers are watching their competitors jostle for better market positioning. Even giant snack companies like Frito-Lay, the largest in the market, won’t find it easy to surpass competitors in a multibillion-dollar product category. The keys to targeting a specific segment of snacks, including healthy multigrain options instead of the broad category of tortilla chip snacks, could also be manageable if the competition turns out strong.

For its marketing campaigns, Frito-Lay — which sells Doritos in 37 countries across the world — implements integrated marketing to complement the huge global reach and popularity of its brand. The company believes its world, as defined by its product, is much smaller and more connected than in the past. To further enhance its brand, Frito-Lay, owned by PepsiCo, utilizes social media, digital marketing and television advertising to saturate its various world markets.

GRUMA Mexico, on the other hand, focuses on promoting its gluten-free flour tortilla for healthy digestion using interactive campaigns on social media networking sites. Its Tortilla for a Healthy Digestion contains probiotics, which research says benefits the digestive and immune systems of human beings. The aim is to reinforce the bond between the company and consumers.

But how healthy are tortilla chips? As mentioned earlier, manufacturers are gradually opting for nourishing ingredients that have more fiber, reduced fats, less salt and the so-called high-amylose maize resistant starch that the Food and Drug Administration authorized in 2016. It’s now possible to add whole-wheat flour to tortilla chips without compromising taste. Bakeries are also directed to reduce sodium levels and shortening and at the same time maintain the quality of the chips. The key is to look for the right and wholesome ingredients.

At this time, competition is getting tougher and tortilla chip trends are constantly changing. Thus, it’s now up to major industry players to come up with strategic and creative measures that will ensure the sustained growth of this industry.

Lianna Arakelyan is a digital marketing specialist, content writer and food observer, with a deep goal of always being updated on the food industry and news of the world.