PepsiCo, the US food and beverage group, is to launch a snack aimed at women next month as the company looks to tap into demand among female consumers for "healthy" snacks.

The company, which sells snack brands including Doritos and Lay's, will introduce Smartfood popcorn clusters in the US next month.

The low-fat, low-sugar, sweet and salty popcorn snacks are part of PepsiCo's attempt to target the US$650m in sales that it sees from female consumption of snacks.

"In March, Frito-Lay will introduce our first truly-targeted women's snack," John Compton, CEO of PepsiCo America Foods, told the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference in Florida yesterday (19 February).

Compton said the impetus for PepsiCo's move to target female consumers came from the company's female chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi.

"She strongly encouraged us to think about women completely different," Compton said. PepsiCo commissioned a study into female consumption habits, which led the group to launch a product targeted at women.

"The study told us that if we developed products that truly met women's needs and if we communicated to them on their terms, in a compelling way, that there was a potential market just in the US alone of $650m. That got our attention."

Among other measures, Compton said PepsiCo is revamping the in-store displays it uses to sell its products to highlight healthier snacks for women, who do the majority of shopping.