A Frito-Lay exec explains why your favourite Doritos and Lay's flavours might be missing from stores since the pandemic hit

Hollis JohnsonCool Ranch Doritos have been hard to find since the pandemic began.
  • Frito-Lay, the savoury-snack subsidiary of PepsiCo responsible for brands like Tostitos, Doritos, Cheetos, and Lay’s, had to reduce assortment of its flavours at the start of the pandemic.
  • The tactic resulted in an apparent shortage of less stand-out flavours in stores, with customers taking to Twitter to voice their frustrations with the lack of variety.
  • “From a production perspective, as we got into this, we had to really reduce assortment of a lot of our portfolio,” chief customer officer of Frito-Lay North America Mike Del Pozzo previously told Business Insider.
  • A Financial Post report revealed that the dearth of Cool Ranch Doritos in Canada was caused by a similar tactic.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As snacking has increased amid the pandemic, Frito-Lay has had to pivot its business to feed the growing salty cravings of its consumers.

The savoury-snack subsidiary of PepsiCo responsible for brands like Tostitos, Doritos, Cheetos, and Lay’s, was impacted by a shift in consumer habits at the start of the pandemic. Like many food and beverage companies, Frito-Lay saw a surge in business during the stock-up phase at the start of the pandemic. Salty snacks were the top food item contributing to sales growth at retailers since early March, according to sales data from IRI, a data-analytics and market-research company.

To meet the rise in demand, Frito-Lay made the decision in early March to streamline the portfolio and reduced about 21% of the brands SKUs to focus on maintaining the supply of the best-selling core brands, a representative for the brand said.

“From a production perspective, as we got into this, we had to really reduce assortment of a lot of our portfolio,” Mike Del Pozzo, the chief customer officer of Frito-Lay North America, told Business Insider in an interview, adding that a top priority was ensuring core brands were available and accessible in stores.

The result, naturally, was a lack in variety among other, less stand-out flavours near the start of the pandemic. Frustrated by being unable to find their favourite flavours, Frito-Lay customers took to Twitter to inquire about the lack of flavours such as Doritos Salsa Verde, Fritos Scoops Spicy Jalapeño, Frito-Lay Baked & Popped Mix Sack, Tostitos Restaurant Style Hint of Jalapeño, and more. In many cases, Frito-Lay responded to these inquiries and complaints by confirming that these flavours were experiencing a temporary pause in production.

One user took to Twitter to voice his frustration with the lack of stock, to which Frito-Lay responded that the company was “working diligently to meet that demand.”

In responses to other tweets, Frito-Lay confirmed the company had to temporarily halt production of Doritos Salsa Verde, another fan favourite.

Frito-Lay confirmed a halt in production in other flavours such as Fritos Scoops Spicy Jalapeño and Lay’s Lightly Salted via Twitter as well.

In Canada, a similar dearth of variety has reportedly been found. A Financial Post report revealed that the lack of Cool Ranch Doritos in Canada was also caused by pivoting focus from a variety of flavours to just three core flavours.

“We had to make decisions along the way and make them fast,” Ian Adler, chief marketing officer at PepsiCo Foods Canada, told the Financial Post. “Doritos is definitely one that caused a great deal of discussion, knowing that a fan favourite like Cool Ranch could be in jeopardy.”

In America, Del Pozzo said that as consumer habits have become more predictable, Frito-Lay has started to focus on bringing back the assortment of noncore flavours in its portfolio. A representative from Frito-Lay confirmed that most flavours were back in stock or would be soon.

“All but 5% of the paused SKUs have returned to the portfolio in recent weeks as we have seen stock up mentality slow,” the representative said.

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