NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- For packaged-food giants such as PepsiCo (PEP) and General Mills (GIS), introducing innovative and seemingly healthier snacks and drinks is the name of the game. As U.S. consumers seek out better eating options, an eye-catching new product with an ingredient or health angle can catch fire with consumers and help boost sales and profits.
PepsiCo's recent strength has been driven by distinctive new products in its soda group, including Caleb's Kola, a craft premium soda, and and DEWshine, a throwback clear version of Mountain Dew. Both use cane sugar, as opposed to artificial sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup.
CEO Indra Nooyi pointed out in a July 9 earnings call that as a percentage of total revenue, sales from new products hit 9% in 2014, an increase of about 2 percentage points from two years ago, with a majority of those products built around the concept of healthier snacking.
Meanwhile, General Mills has experienced sales growth with healthier cereals and breakfast foods.
"We have a very good understanding for the new preferences that consumers have for breakfast, such as products that are simpler, products that are more filling, products that taste good, and products that address very specific issues that consumers have like gluten and artificial colors," said General Mills CEO Ken Powell on a July 1 call with analysts.
TheStreet takes a look at several new foods and drinks that big food companies are hoping consumers will open their wallets for this summer.