Part of our process in developing this month’s annual “Top 50 Snack & Bakery Companies” list involves reviewing annual reports and communications with shareholders from some of the top companies working in grain-based foods today.

During this research, I was struck by some of the specific language Ramon Luis Laguarta, chairman, president and CEO of PepsiCo used as he discussed strategies for growth at Frito-Lay during a call to investors after the release of PepsiCo’s fiscal 2018 annual report. In his comments, he noted increasing U.S. demand for “permissible and premium” snacks. He then noted that Frito-Lay has sought to meet this need via Frito-Lay brand extensions like the “Simply” products that have rolled out under the company’s iconic Lay’s, Ruffles, Doritos and Cheetos brands—bringing incrementally improved nutrition and cleaner labels—among other brand strategies. He also called out the SunChips brand—one that has brought label-friendly use of vegetables into some of the substrates used for the brand’s 100 percent multigrain snack chips in recent years.

Laguarta noted Frito-Lay’s dominance. “Frito-Lay in North America, our largest sector by profit, is an extremely strong businesses—strong business that generates consistently attractive top-line growth and has industry-leading margins and returns on invested capital.”

We all know this. Frito-Lay is a hall of legends.

But having the vision to deliver on “permissible” snacking ideals within those iconic brands is just smart business. The ongoing decision to grow the range of Simply products at Frito-Lay continues to show sales momentum.

This notion of “permissible eating” will continue to build steam. It’s one of the primary elements driving the current plant-based movement—and that includes the flurry of activity in plant-based meat analogues making inroads to the U.S. chain foodservice industry.

What else can tip the scales to make a traditionally indulgent snack or bakery treat “permissible”—and still craveable—and how might that factor into your R&D plans for 2020? This theme will run throughout our commentary and analysis in the coming year.

From all of us here at Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, we wish you a wonderful holiday season and a profitable new year.