Frito-Lay Unveils ‘Quieter’ SunChips Bags

by | Feb 24, 2011

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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