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Frito-Lay Unveils ‘Quieter’ SunChips Bags

Four months ago, a bold Frito-Lay packaging move suffered jeers for what critics called an embarrassing marketing blunder. Today, the chip giant said it has found a solution.

The company’s 100 percent compostable bags for its SunChips product, sneak-previewed and then unveiled with great fanfare, proved a flop when customers complained that the plant-based bags were too noisy. Consumers have compared the SunChips’ bag noise to a “revving motorcycle” and “glass breaking”. In October, Frito-Lay yanked the bags for all but its SunChips Original snacks, reverting most flavors to the original packaging.

Now, the company said that it has fixed the problem, using a more rubbery adhesive to put together the two layers of the bag and create a noise barrier, the Associated Press reports. A revamped SunChip website markets the new bag with this video (pictured left).

Initially, Frito-Lay will use the new bag on SunChips Originals. It will then assess customer reaction before deciding whether to roll out the bag more widely.

Frito-Lay parent company PepsiCo Inc. spent much of last year trying to find a solution to the noise problem, and engineers examined dozens of options.

“We got a lot of extremely positive feedback … but on the same hand we heard one overwhelming complaint,” said Brad Rodgers, manager of sustainable packaging for PepsiCo advanced research.

Rodgers said he was initially suspicious that a razor-thin layer of adhesive could stop the noise. But engineers found that the solution dampened the bag’s sound to 70 decibals, about the same as most other chip bags and SunChips’ original packaging. The engineers registered the first design at 80 to 85 decibals.

The new bags are arriving in stores now, the AP reported. Frito-Lay would not disclose how much it spent to redesign the bags.

Just this Monday, Research and Markets announced the publication of a report into the SunChips stumble, called “Frito-Lay SunChips Case Study: When Sustainable Packaging Conflicts With Consumers’ Sensory Needs“.

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11 thoughts on “Frito-Lay Unveils ‘Quieter’ SunChips Bags

  1. “Embarassing marketing blunder”? Consumers should be embarassed for being so absurdly fussy. Kudos to Frito-Lay for being so pioneering in the first place and for putting up with consumers’ ridiculous complaints and coming up with an even better solution.

  2. Frito-Lay may not reveal how much they spent to redesign the bags, but all the publicity? Priceless! (This is a good thing for the sustainable materials movement – the public is now well-familiar with compostable chips bags… good.)

  3. I hope this (surprisingly fast turnaround) new bag will be acceptable to the U.S. consumer. It was discouraging that the U.S. public was unable to think outside the bag on the noise issue (eg, pour the chips into a bowl) with something as important as the environment is at stake.

  4. Wow. The bag is too noisy? What do you think it sounds like when your chomping away at crunchy treats. I am curious who was on that panel. Maybe the old lady had her hearing aid turned up to loud.

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