Frito-Lay says it will convert half of its products to all-natural ingredients by the end of the year, while its North America unit sells its TrueNorth nut snack brand to DeMet’s Candy Co.

Frito-Lay, Plano, Texas, says that it will now make half of its products solely with all-natural ingredients and will phase in the new ingredient lists over the course of 2011. More than six-dozen Frito-Lay varieties will eventually be made with all-natural ingredients, including all varieties of Lay’s potato chips, Tostitos tortilla chips, SunChips multigrain snacks, Baked! snacks and Rold Gold pretzels.

Tostitos Hint of Lime Tortilla Chips, for example, will be produced without the additives monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG, sodium diacetate and artificial colors. Consumers who eat Lay's Barbeque chips next year won't be ingesting MSG or other additives, either.

“This is the largest evolution we've ever had in our product line,” says Ann Mukherjee, chief marketing officer at Frito-Lay.

Before the change, 30% of the company's products contained all-natural ingredients. Mukherjee says that the changes are in response to increased consumer demand for all-natural products. “We want to provide our customers with a broad portfolio of snack options that taste great and are made with real food ingredients,” Mukherjee explains.

In another move, Frito-Lay North America, a PepsiCo division, is giving up on one of its boldest better-for-you snack gambits yet: TrueNorth. It launched the TrueNorth line of premium nut products in 2007, but it never really caught on with health-conscious consumers, though most nuts are intrinsically healthy, a key marketing benefit. The line was sold to DeMet’s Candy, Stamford, Conn., a chocolate confectionery manufacturer that owns Turtles, Stixx and other candy brands.

DeMets will reportedly integrate TrueNorth into its existing portfolio of confectionery products. Formed in 2007, DeMets is owned by Brynwood Partners, a Stamford, Conn.-based a private equity fund company.  “DeMets is pleased to welcome the TrueNorth products to its family of brands,” says David Clarke president and CEO. “These high-quality, all-natural products will provide DeMet’s with many new avenues for growth and innovation, both in market segments that TrueNorth presently competes in as well as in new ones.”