In 2015 a market analysis carried out by OC&C Strategy Consultants, it was pointed out Pepsico as the third largest and strongest of all fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies; having earned $66.7 billion in sales throughout the previous 2014 year alone (Consultancy U.K., 2017). Pepsico’s brand Lays – which offers a broad variety of potato chips –, on the other hand, is at the moment considered to be the number seven food brand of the world according to a brand footprint analysis carried out by the Kantar World Panel in 2016 (Kantar World Panel, 2016).
Behind the colossal corporation
Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Tropicana, Quaker, Walkers, Lipton and many other products stand below gigantic Pepsico’s umbrella; which now offers 22 global brands with each one generating an estimate of more than $1 billion in retail sales (Pepsico, 2017). “Performance with purpose” is said to be at the core of this multinational corporation, which claims to be seeking to eventually integrate sustainability in its business strategy; as well as to leave “a positive imprint on society and the environment” (Pepsico, 2017). To secure this, they have come up with a Code of Conduct that will have to be signed by every worker and supplier by 2025 (Clancy, H., 2017).
Lately, Pepsico has joined Coca Cola and Nestlé in a raid against sugar, by decreasing the amount of sugar in its soft drinks (Fortune, 2017). This action comes as an alleged response to current modern epidemic health issues such as diabetes and obesity. Pepsico has also been moving towards a natural snack segment with its product line Simply, which claims to offer organic versions of Doritos, Tostitos, Lays and Stacy’s; as well as with other brands such as AMP Energy’s organic energy drink (Fortune, 2017). A maneuver that Forbes magazine has been a little skeptical about (Forbes, 2017), but whose aim seems to be that of entering organic food stores (Nasdaq, 2017). More recently, Pepsico has donated $1 million to the American Cross for aiding Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas (Morris, C., 2017).
On the contrary, multinational corporation Pepsico has just a while ago been linked to the illegal destruction of the one and only Leuser Ecosystem in Indonesia for the sake of planting African palm (Neslen, A, 2017); together with human rights violations that have been going on at an Indonesian palm oil plantation ran by one of Pepsico’s major partners, Indofood. These violations include underpaid wages that workers receive in exchange of their services and the exposing of workers to harmful pesticides (Coca, N., 2017).
Indian American Pepsico CEO, Indra Nooyi, was criticized by many when she did not step down from President Trump’s Strategy and Policy Forum this past August; after at least 7 of the invited leaders had already resigned because of Trump’s aloof response towards the violent “United the Right” rally event that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia on the 11th of August (Sohrabji, Sunita, 2017). In 2016 a lawsuit was filed against Pepsico stating that the corporative giant was exceeding the allowed levels of carcinogenic chemical 4-Melthylimidazole used in its soft drinks (Geske, D., 2016); plus another one revolving around misleading claims with respect to its Naked Juices brand. Apparently, Pepsico was marketing these beverage as healthy, when in fact many of them contain even up to 50% more sugar than a 12-ounce Pepsi soda (Taylor, K., 2016).
A deep look into Lays’ Potato Chips
Lays’ potato chips come in an assortment of flavors; namely 52 of them, ranging from cheddar & sour cream to dill pickle and from kettle cooked cream cheese & chive to sweat southern heat barbecue.
When reviewing Lays’ Classic potato chips, it is easy to notice how these have a short and simple ingredients list that includes potatoes, vegetable oil (sunflower, corn and/or canola oil) and salt. Nonetheless, the trick lies in looking at the amount of calories, fat, and sodium that these contain. For example, by eating merely 1 ounce of these chips (with one ounce equaling 15 chips and regular bags usually containing 1.5 ounces), you will be taking in 160 calories, 10 grams of fat and 170 milligrams of sodium; leaving your fingers laminated in salt and fat. According to the Canadian Liver Foundation (Canadian Liver Foundation, 2016), an adequate daily intake of sodium for a 9 to 50 year old person consists of 1,500 mg; which means that by eating just 1 small 1.5 ounce bag of classic Lays potato chips you would nearly be reaching 20% of your daily consumption. On the other hand, when it comes to an adequate intake of fat, the USDA recommends people who are under a diet of 2,000 calories taking in between 44g to 77g (Cespedes, A., 2015); meaning that by eating the regular bag of classic Lays potato chips you would already be ingesting 34.1% to 19.5% of your daily need.
A high sodium intake diet is usually linked to high blood pressure which can ultimately lead to cardiovascular disease (Harvard T.H., 2017); whereas a high fat intake diet is generally connected with the development of diabetes, heart disease and cancer (Harvard T.H., 2017).
Having a look at Lays’ other more complex flavors; apart from running into sugar and molasses, one begins to encounter an array of bizarre ingredients such as dextrose, maltodextrin, sodium casseinate, potassium chloride, mono- and diglycerides and monosodium glutamate. Taking a look at the first three:
Dextrose is a type of glucose derived from starches widely used as an added sugar in processed foods. The average women, as stated by the American Heart Association, should not intake more than six spoons of these kinds of added sugars per day; while the average man, should not intake more than nine (Vance, S., 2015). Some health issues associated with a high sugar diet are lowered immunity, weight gain and a rise in risk of heart disease, diabetes, strokes, certain kinds of cancers and Alzheimer’s disease (Vance, S., 2015).
Maltodextrin, also known as polysaccharide, is an artificial sugar that regularly comes in two forms; regular maltodextrin and resistant maltodextrin. Regular maltodextrin consists of a simple carbohydrate, whereas resistant maltodextrin is indigestible and only provides benefits similar to those provided by soluble fiber (Adams, A., 2015). Due to its high glycemic index, maltodextrin is known to boost one’s blood pressure; and to have side effects like allergic reactions, weight gain, bloating and flatulence (Adams, A., 2015).
Protein derived from the milk of mammals, sodium casseinate, is also commonly used as a food additive that has been connected to gastrointestinal problems and autism (Bond, O., 2015).
Added to these elements is the fact that some of this chips are made by using genetically engineered ingredients; which happen to have quite an unreliable reputation as well.
Immediate environmental impact
After enjoying this far from healthy snack its bag will stick around this planet for around 500 years; meanwhile causing harm to wildlife, marine life as well as contributing to many other problems related to solid waste and landfills.
Homemade chips are definitely the best substitutes to regular chips, as you can decide over what ingredients to use. You can venture into cooking anything from cinnamon carrot chips to delicious butternut squash chips and from baked taro chips to garlic and rosemary baked sweet potato chips; and by choosing organic ingredients you can make a hearty, minimum-impact and exquisite snack.
Whenever you do not have the time, but are craving chips you can go for healthier options offered by brands like Terra Chips, The Better Chip, Snapea Crisps, Rhythm Superfoods, Just Pure Foods, Beanitos, and the like.
Call to action
As customers we have the inherent right to knowing what we are exactly buying and who we are buying it from; especially if that which we buy ends up in our mouths and consequently inside our bodies. Only by knowing about the ingredients, processes, actions and values that stand behind the products we buy, can we know whether we are giving our money to the right companies. So let’s continue striving for supporting those products that respect ourselves, our natural world and the magnificent creatures that inhabit it. Let each and every one of our purchases become a vote for life.
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Bond, O. “What is Sodium Casseinate?” (2015) Diet and Nutrition. Livestrong, 16 April 2015. Web. 6 September 2017. http://www.livestrong.com/article/495564-what-is-sodium-caseinate/
Canadian Liver Foundation “Sodium Guidelines” (2016) Liver disease. Canadian Liver Foundation, 2016. Web. 6 September 2017. http://www.liver.ca/liver-disease/having-liver-disease/healthy-living-guidelines/sodium-guidelines.aspx
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