Noisy Sun Chips Bag Underscores Bigger PepsiCo Problem

Sun ChipsSun Chips’ loud bag is getting lots of attention, including a Wall Street Journal story yesterday. PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division bills it as “The World’s First 100% Compostable Chip Package.”

The overwhelming crinkle of the bag annoys people, and it is inappropriate in certain settings like theaters and schools. It is hard to imagine how this bag ever got off the drawing board when one considers how much PepsiCo spends on perfecting and marketing its products.Actually, it is easy to imagine when one considers the politicization of PepsiCo in recent years, which has accelerated under CEO Indra Nooyi. When proving how “green” you are trumps other considerations, you end up with weird results like this bag.

Even if the bag did not make so much noise, can PepsiCo really make the case for a compostable potato chip bag? How many consumers compost? And even among the tiny percentage who do, will they really be throwing the chip bag in with the watermelon rinds?

Of course, the bag is more likely a marketing gimmick, designed to sell more Sun Chips, but it looks like the bag is giving some consumers a reason not to buy.

For several years, NLPC has argued that PepsiCo’s management is putting politics above consumer and shareholder interests. The company bankrolls Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, groups supporting gay marriage, and a host of “green” causes. The company is a member of the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), which lobbies for “strong national legislation to require significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”

This year, NLPC sponsored a shareholder proposal asking for a report on the company’s lobbying priorities. In my remarks at the annual meeting in May, I waved around PepsiCo’s annual report, called “Performance With a Purpose” and said:

PepsiCo’s should stick to ITS core mission. The company is not a political organization, but it acts like one. Yesterday, I had a member of my staff go through this — Performance with a Purpose 2009.

The word “green” appears 3 times.
Climate Change 6 times.
Carbon 12 times.

“Sustain” or “sustainability” 23 times.

“Environment” or “environmental” 40 times.

There is nothing wrong with these words but when presented in this context, they are euphemisms for a set of political positions.

Conversely, the words “consumer choice” or “consumer preference” appear 5 times

Freedom 0 times.

Liberty 0.

Free Enterprise 0.
Capitalism 0.
Free choice 0.


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