When a company as strong as Frito-Lay North America talks, the industry pays attention. According to a recent report by market research firm Mintel, Chicago, IL, Frito-Lay’s $4.8 billion in sales accounted for nearly half of 2010 sales in the chip, pretzel, snack nut and seed, and other salted snack segments. “Its strong leadership position allows it to set the tone for the market, as other companies pay close attention to what it does in terms of product development,” the Mintel report stated.

The most recent of these developments is the addition of Tapatío flavors to the Plano, TX-based PepsiCo division’s Doritos, Fritos and Ruffles brands. “We know that consumers already love adding Tapatío hot sauce to their chips, so it made perfect sense to create new products that include the popular Tapatío hot sauce flavor,” said Dorothy Jones, senior director, innovation, Frito-Lay North America.

Tapatío hot sauce first entered the market in the 1970s. Its combination of red chili peppers, spices and a hint of garlic adds an authentic Mexican kick to meals and snacks. “In Doritos Tapatío, that distinct flavor is added to our top-selling Nacho Cheese base,” Ms. Jones explained. “In Ruffles Tapatío Limon, a hint of lime juice is combined with the hot sauce, giving it a tangy taste, and in Fritos Tapatío, we add the hot sauce flavor to the original toasted-corn variety.”

The company tested many of its existing products for the new flavor, ultimately deciding on the Doritos, Ruffles and Fritos products based on consumer input. So far, it’s working. “Consumer response to the new Tapatío flavors has been very positive,” Ms. Jones said. “We’re excited to see how the products do in the marketplace.”

“Tapatío hot sauce and Frito-Lay share a common heritage, both beginning as small, family-owned businesses and growing thanks to loyal and passionate fans who love our products,” said Jose-Luis Saavedra Sr., founder, Tapatío Hot Sauce. “We’re excited to work with Frito-Lay on the next phase of Tapatío’s growth and can’t wait to bring our unique hot sauce flavor to many new consumers through Frito-Lay’s popular brands.”

The Tapatío-flavored chips are now available in grocery and convenience stores in the Western and Central regions of the US. Fritos Tapatío are offered in a 2.875-oz bag for 99¢ and 9.25-oz bag for $2.99; Doritos Tapatío in a 2.125-oz bag for 99¢ and a 7.625-oz bag for $2.99; and Ruffles Tapatío Limon in a 1.875-oz package for 99¢ and 6.5-oz bag for $2.99.

Frito-Lay keeps its consumers up to date on recent product developments as well as suggested recipes at its Snack Chat blog,www.snacks.com, and via Twitter, @FritoLay.