Juan Imaz in Foodies, Business Co-Founder and Chairman • beBee Aug 7, 2017 · 5 min read · +900

Potato chips - the world’s number one snack

Potato chips are the number one snack and the most consumed salty snack with $1.7 billion sold in 2017. This is no surprise as the crunchiness of the fried potato, the perfect level of saltiness and the additional flavours make this snack absolutely irresistible when placed in front of you.

The global potato chips market is also expected to grow proving that there is no end in sight for our potato chip addiction. The global market value of potato chips is expected to reach “$40.3 billion by 2022.” Potatoes continue to be our choice of snack. Chips are an easy and fun choice when alone on the go, with friends or with family. They are easy to place in any setting and loved by everyone.

Potato chips often come with our drink at a bar or cafe, are eaten while watching a sports game or are eaten during a party but with growing trends for healthier choices, how is the potato chip market responding? Potato chips have always had a stigma attached to them as being “junk food”, but do they have any health benefits? Are there potato chips or substitute for potato chips that could be considered healthy or healthier?

“Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.”
Diane Duane

Potato chips - the world’s number one snack

The Secret to potato chips huge success

When it comes to snacking, potato chips are king. Consumers want salty snacks that are easy to open, serve, share and consume. In the US alone “1.2 billion pounds” of potato chips are consumed each year. Potato chips are so popular among us because of their crunchy and perfectly salty taste. The many flavors that they are sold in mean that there is a flavor for everyone. The bags are convenient for on the go, for parties, individually consumed or at any occasion.

Most of the household names that we are familiar with in snacks such as Cheetos, Doritos, Fritos, Lay’s and Ruffles are all owned by Frito-Lay, which is a subsidiary of PepsiCo. Lay’s are the most sold potato chips in the market with US annual sales of 633 million Lay’s  Potato chips bags. Kettle chips are the largest natural potato chip brand in the U.S. now owned by Diamond Foods. Also Procter & Gamble merged Pringles with Diamond Foods

These potato chips sellers may be many but it’s no wonder as potato chips are the second most sold product worldwide. Potato chips are found anywhere you go in the world and can be found in unique flavors in each country you visit. Potato chips are always a familiar sight in supermarkets where you can hardly recognize the rest of the local products being sold. Potato chips are a product that everybody has had at some point if not very often, and can be classed as a common worldwide consumer product.

Just like sodas like Coca-Cola or Pepsi, Lay’s potato chips among other well known brands have globalized and become part of everybody’s life and culture in some form or another. Potato chips are today commonly served around the world when ordering a drink like coca-cola or an alcoholic beverage. It is a common free snack that comes with your drink. Also potato chips are a popular party snack.

In the US Lay’s Chips brand is the leading potato chip company with about US $1.7 billion of sales in 2017. Lay’s does not only sell the most but is extremely involved in the community. Lay’s recently had a contest called Lay's "Do Us a Flavor" contest with the grand prize of US $1M for the winning flavor idea that Lay’s would transform into one of their potato chip flavors. In the past potato chips Lay’s marketed as limited edition flavors from the contest were Fiery Roasted Habanero, Korean Barbecue, Smoked Gouda and Chive, and Olive Oil and Herbs.

Potato chips are such a staple of events, festivities and parties that we almost expect them to be served at the events that we go to. They are the perfect table snack that everybody enjoys and can be shared by many at a single event. As they lack many ingredients they are also allergy-friendly and dietary-friendly for most consumers making them an easy, acceptable and suitable choice for many.

With promotions, contests and social media engagement with the community there is no stopping our favorite snack brands as they churn out new flavors and opt for healthier recipes. As healthier recipes begin turning this favorite and popular snack into a guilt-free pleasure, there will be no stopping this already billion dollar potato chip market from expanding ever more.

"Once you pop, you can't stop,"
Pringles slogan

With such popularity, do potato chips have health benefits?

Potato chips have for a long time been tarred with the unhealthy label as “junk food” and bad for you. With so much bad press of being unhealthy for you, let’s explore what health benefits potato chips have.

If you can’t live without potato chips then you’re in for luck because there are some healthy potato chip choices out there that you can enjoy eating and get nutrients out of them. Different potato chips are manufactured differently, meaning that they are not all equally made. Some potato chips are baked while others are fried. When they are fried they can also vary in health as some are fried in healthier oils such as olive oil. Some potato chips contain high levels of salt and sugar while others contain a recommended level. Others you may have considered s potato chips are not even made purely from potatoes such as Pringles. Pringles are made from a combination of  rice, wheat, corn, and potato flakes.

Potato chips that are made with olive oil can actually be rich in heart-healthy fats, contain no sugar and have low sodium. They can be made purely from potatoes, olive oil and salt which makes them a healthy snack choice. When purchasing potato chips it’s crucial to keep this in mind and to look for chips that suit your dietary needs. You should read the packaging and see what the chips you are purchasing actually contain. To make healthier choices you should check the ingredients and nutrients. Potato chips can also contain healthy amounts of Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Potassium, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, C and E.

If consumed in a small quantity as instructed in the recommended serving size, potato chips aren’t that bad for you in terms of junk food. As a snack now and then if consumed in the recommended serving size they can be part of your diet. The problem is that you have to measure out this recommended size and forget about the rest until the next time, because if consumed in large quantity the calories can add up quickly. Also it can be very difficult and take willpower to not eat the rest of those crunchy and salty potato chips. This is where those smaller serving bags come in handy, so you know how many you should be eating and how many calories the smaller single serving bags have in them. Look for potato chips with no additives or extra ingredients when opting for healthier options.

Other brands and forms of potato chips can be a low-nutrient food substance which provide only a high amount of calories, fat and sodium. So it does make a big difference as to which potato chip bag you are purchasing as to how many nutrients you can obtain from them.

“I'm a big potato chip girl. I don't like chocolate and cakes and all that, but I have to have my potato chips. I've got bags in the back of my car right now! But I never beat myself up about it, because, look: You can't give up every damn thing. You need something in your life that you like just because you like it!”

NeNe Leakes

Some exotic potato chip flavors from around the world

When talking about potato chips to buy or sell, no flavor is too weird. Today consumers actually want the weird and wonderful exotic flavors. Consumers are quick to try new flavors and update their social media accounts about their new experiences.

It’s hard to imagine that there once was only the standard potato chip flavor, when today we can find a range of standard flavors in our local markets from sour cream and chives to salt and vinegar to barbecue. Each local market has their own unique flavors. Here are some from around the world.

United States

In the U.S., some of the best selling potato chips come in flavors such as barbecue, sour cream & onion and salt & vinegar. Other options include bacon & cheddar. bacon, mac & cheese flavor, cream cheese & herbs and buffalo wing.


Typical Spanish potato chip flavors include Jamon, or Spanish Iberian ham, paprika or virgin olive oil chips —100% extra virgin olive oil. Other less common varieties include black truffle chips, sparkling wine flavored chips and caviar flavored chips.


Popular flavors in Japan include nori shio which is seaweed & salt), jagariko which is baked potato with butter , wasabeef which is wasabi and beef, pizza, ume which is  pickled plum), hot chili or soy sauce & mayo. Other flavors include octapus, wasabi and peas to mint chocolate.


In India some of the top flavors  include masala, hot and sweet chilli, tango tomato, mango and lime and masala.

There are endless amounts of flavors with new flavors being brought out into the market regularly.

Future for potato chip market

Consumers are looking for healthier alternatives so the future of the potato chip market really depends on how each potato chip company is able to market their product as a healthy product. This being said the packaging can be changed or the product itself can be enhanced to providing consumers healthier nutrients.

Since the beginning when potato chips were invented by mistake, consumers have indulged in these salty snacks by the bag full. The future of potato chips means finding a balance between the salty potatoes and healthy add-ons. In order to appeal to the consumers of tomorrow. The products need to provide the body with healthy nutrients. Current potato chips in the market need to be developed, modified and enhanced with healthier ingredients to keep products relevant in the market.

The potato chip brands that want to stay popular, trendy and in-demand need to ensure they are quick to change and adapt to growing demands and tastes of the healthier consumers. Consumers of the younger generation are quick to try out new products, socialize and share their experiences especially online being mobile friendly and want the potato chips on the go. Consumers want to see and try new flavors, more organic products, healthier ingredients such as olive oil and less additives.

Competing snacks such as nuts, crackers, biscuits, candy, pretzels, popcorn, among others will always be competition to the potato chip industry. High competition comes from new trends in veggie chips such as mixed vegetable chips, turnip chips, sweet potato chips or carrot chips. Potato chips have the advantage that they have long been the most popular choice and are part of our culinary culture around the world. Consumers will continue to purchase potato chips in growing years pushing sales higher.

If potato chip companies respond to our healthier habits, producing healthier chips with enhanced ingredients and smaller packages to meet the recommended daily consumption of potato chips, then potato chips will long have a place in our diet in the future.

As we continue to be a busy and on-the-go potato chips are a convenient and easy snack that will continue to be part of our shopping basket. Potato chips are a regular household purchase for many, a frequent encounter at any bar or restaurant and a common purchase when travelling. Often when we travel a bag of chips is a handy snack in the car, plane, train or bus. There is no stopping the potato chips market from growing even bigger globally.

Potato chips have always been an affordable, convenient and easy to purchase product that have grown in popularity globally making them a staple around the world. Although the market players are dominated by the large multinationals, we are seeing more domestic and local entrants into the markets. New flavors, packaging and healthier options are allowing the smaller companies to differentiate their product giving them a foothold in the market.

We expect to see more flavors, brands and packaging in the future of the potato chip market. We also expect to see growth and higher sales globally. There is no stopping our favorite snack the potato chip.

What is your favorite flavor?

Renée 🐝 Cormier Aug 8, 2017 · #10

Try eating plain potato chips with chocolate, @Juan Imaz. You alternate between the two. Divine!

Jim Murray Aug 8, 2017 · #9

#5 Don't quit your day job.

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Paul Walters Aug 8, 2017 · #8

@Juan Imaz pass the chips will you Juan

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Christine Gribble Aug 8, 2017 · #7

Long live the potato chip!

Matt Sweetwood Aug 7, 2017 · #6

Now I have to go eat some. Thanks. Buzz On!

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Phil Friedman Aug 7, 2017 · #5


Oh, my dear potato chip
You put pounds upon my hip.
But I love thee all the same,
For without you a sandwich is lame.

-- Phil Friedman

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Dominique 🐝 Petersen Aug 7, 2017 · #3

My 2 favs here in Canada: Marinara and Parmesan, and Chile and Cheese.

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