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Pepsi CEO names the snack food of the future: bugs

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Sean Gallup | Getty Images

In 2026, your go-to snack food may be bugs, according to the CEO of Pepsi, Indra Nooyi.

And the prediction is worth taking seriously: a decade ago, Nooyi was correct in forecasting a mass migration toward healthier foods.

"Bug-related stuff is big," says Nooyi, speaking at the Net/Net event at the New York Stock Exchange.

The multinational food-and-beverage behemoth Pepsi spends considerable time and resources predicting what consumers will want to snack on in the future so that it can be the provider of those snacks.

Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo.

What customers will want, soon enough, is cheap sources of protein.

"[Experts] said the hottest thing is eating crickets," says Nooyi. "I am not talking about the game cricket, I am talking about crickets! In chips. And I am a vegetarian, I am not eating any cricket chips. But they said if you want a high protein source, there is a series of products being launched with crickets."

"The hottest thing is eating crickets. I am not talking about the game cricket, I am talking about crickets! In chips." -Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi

While there are some cricket-based snacks already available, most people don't yet seem excited about bugs in their chips. "That's not stuff that is going to be mainstream for a while," cautions Nooyi.

Still, as a company, Pepsi must forecast future trends in waves.

"One year, three year, five year, ten year: we have different people looking at different horizons, because if you believe in the ten year horizons and what we are seeing, some of the weirdest food and beverage habits are showing up," says Nooyi. Even if consumers are not ready for those trends now, Pepsi needs to be prepared.

They were prepared for the current trend toward healthier snacks, for example, because ten years ago, Nooyi and her vice chairman and CFO, Hugh Johnston, correctly predicted junk food fatigue.

"There is a lot of talk of health and wellness right now in the food and beverage space, and we have been talking about it really for the last five or ten years," says Johnston, who also spoke at the Net/Net event.

"We actually first started working on health and wellness in 1997, I think it was, with the infamous health and wellness room we had put together for some of our Senior Executives." says Johnston. He has been working alongside Nooyi for the better part of two decades and took over the role of CFO in 2010.

If they are right, crickets will be the almonds of the future.