General Mills’ Old El Paso enters snack category with chips


Dive Brief:

  • General Mills is bringing its Old El Paso brand into the snack aisle for the first time with the launch of its Fiesta Twists corn chips.
  • Old El Paso, best known for taco shells, tortillas and seasoning mixes, is debuting three sweet and savory Tex-Mex-inspired flavors: Queso, Zesty Ranch and Cinnamon Churro. They are available only at Walmart.
  • General Mills is the latest CPG maker to tap into the existing equity of a well-known brand to enter a new part of the store or food consumption category.

Dive Insight:

As consumers spent more time at home during the pandemic, Old El Paso was one of the biggest beneficiaries with sales surging 25% during 2020. General Mills is shrewdly tapping into that resurgence and the growth in consumer snacking across the food industry to find a new way to grow the popular Tex-Mex-inspired brand.

The flavors, most notably Queso and Zesty Ranch, are in line with options one would expect to see in a Tex-Mex offering. General Mills already offers Queso and Zesty Ranch sauces for sale under the Old El Paso brand. While chips bring the brand into a new food category, they are not too far removed from its tortillas and shells, so they will not be a shock to the consumer or risk damaging the perception shoppers have of the product. 

It’s a successful strategy that Sovos Brands has used for its food items. Its Italian brand Rao’s recently moved into premium pizzas, its Noosa yogurt into gelato, and Birch Benders waffles and pancakes have appeared in cookies and cake mixes.

General Mills’ decision to partner with Walmart on the product’s launch instantly gives the brand a large, reputable footprint to start in, while giving Old El Paso an aura of exclusivity right out of the gate. General Mills did not say whether the chips would eventually make their way to other retailers, but if the product proves to be a success, it would make sense for the CPG to look for ways to expand its reach.

By bringing Old El Paso to a new aisle of the store, General Mills can boost brand awareness, as well as places where an individual might see it. A shopper might notice the chips and be reminded of the brand’s tortillas or taco shells, and eventually decide to add those to their cart. 

It also gives the brand exposure to an entirely different time of day when a consumer might turn to its brand. Old El Paso is largely known for dinner, but the chips give it immediate exposure to the fast-growing snacking category.

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