The "popped" snacks category is becoming increasingly popular

The "popped" snacks category is becoming increasingly popular

More players joining the UK "popped snacks" category will only help it to grow, Popchips commercial director Ben Heathorn has said.

Speaking to just-food at the Food & Drink Expo in Birmingham, Heathorn said the increase in competitors in the sector was "exciting" for Popchips.

"There are more players coming in for example, Walkers for example brought out a popped snack. You look at PepsiCo, they're huge. With a brand like that launching in this category, it proves they see the potential in it," Heathorn said yesterday (26 March).

"It's exciting for us because they'll help to grow the category and educate the market. It's important they do well so we have a bigger slice of the pie."

Heathorn acknowledged the competition from established players in the wider crisps and snack market but said Popchips is a healthier option, containing half the fat of fried potato chips with no artificial colours, flavours and no preservatives.

As the industry is increasingly pressured to provide healthier options, Heathorn said it has helped boost Popchips' presence in the market, although he emphasised the taste of the company's product.

"We don't lead with the product being low-calorie, we lead with it being great-tasting - and there's nothing at the front of the bag which suggests it is healthier or that it's a diet product. People enjoy the taste and then realise it is a healthier alternative," he said.

"But healthy is a macro trend. Everyone is making healthier choices. You just need to go round the show and see the options coconut water, fruit bars - it's a macro trend that will definitely help us".

Earlier this year, US-based Popchips appointed former Kettle Foods CEO Paul Davis as its new CEO.

Davis succeeds co-founder and chairman Keith Belling and co-founder and president Patrick Turpin at the head of Popchips, which does business in the US, Canada and the UK. Belling continues to serve as chairman for the company.

In the UK, Popchips are available at Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Ocado. An 85g bag retails for between GBP1.99-GBP2.29 (US$3.29-$3.79)