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Frito Lay Chooses Peace and Quiet Over Saving Earth

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It’s one of the perennial questions bandied about in the halls of corporate America: Have US consumers reached a point where they’re willing to make small sacrifices for the environment’s sake? Frito-Lay learned the answer this year, and it’s a resounding no.

Eighteen months after repackaging its popular SunChips in plant-based, compostable bags, the PepsiCo division is giving in to customers who complained about how noisy the bags are. (See the Facebook page “SORRY BUT I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THIS SUN CHIPS BAG," “liked” by over 44,000 people.)

With sales down 11%, Frito-Lay is switching five of SunChips’ six flavors back to non-biodegradable bags while it tries to come up with a quieter alternative.

Can noisy packaging really account for such a big drop in sales? Maybe -- the super-loud bags made SunChips unviable for sneaking into a movie theater, not to mention covert late-night snacking.

There’s also the guilt factor to consider: Only 8% of Americans compost their food waste, according to the National Resource Defense Council. Among the other 92%, a good chunk may not appreciate being reminded of their green deficiencies in the snack aisle.

Still, Frito-Lay remains committed to its dream of chip bags that break down into soil. "We are on a journey with compostable packaging,” says spokeswoman Aurora Gonzalez.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.