Do vegetable crisps deserve their health halo?

Vegetable crisps are an alternative to potato crisps. Made with a range of vegetables including beetroot, sweet potato, and parsnip, they are often perceived as a ‘better-for-you’ alternative to their potato cousins. But are they?

How do consumers perceive vegetable crisps?

Vegetable crisps are often seen as a healthier, ‘better-for-you’ alternative. “Vegetable chips [crisps] have traditionally been positioned as a sort of better-for-you (BFY) or healthier option among salty snack products,” Carl Quash III, head of snacks and nutrition at marketing research company Euromonitor, told FoodNavigator.

“While there is a growing number of consumers that are also looking to the category for nutrition, more indulgent, flavourful, and fun formats tend to win out. This is why per capita potato chip consumption is much greater than vegetable chips. This is why per capita spend on potato chips is much higher than vegetable chips. And this is why vegetable chip manufacturers are investing more in flavour and indulgent product aspects to meet the demand from the nearly one-in-three consumers that typically snack to treats or reward themselves.”

Potential of an HFSS tax

A recent study​ exploring the potential of taxing foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) found that a tax could indeed affect the sales of such products. The researchers suggested that combining these taxes with subsidies for healthier options could help people with lower incomes to improve their health.

In the German market, for example, “vegetable/fruit slice crisps may be a popular choice among younger users, who may see these as a way to include more fruit and vegetables in their diet and capitalise on the health halo that fruit and vegetables enjoy. It also aligns with the ‘5 am Tag’, which encourages Germans to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day,” Khalid Peerbaccus, food and drink senior analyst at market research company Mintel, told FoodNavigator.