SunChips: Is Sustainability too Crunchy?

Source: AP Images

It was just last year, with much fanfare, that I heard about the new biodegradable SunChips bag at Sutustainable Brands 09. And while the crunch of the new bags is not new news (it was even reported in the Wall Street Journal), I was surprised and sad to learn yesterday that Frito-Lay has decided to revert to the original non-biodegradable bag for five or its six SunChips brand bags because…of complaints from customers that they are too crunchy.  I kid you not.

There are now dueling SunChips Facebook pages.

One for folks who love the bag.  “Keep SunChips loud and biodegradable!” One fan writes, “If Frito-Lay cares more about a quiet chip bag than they do the environment, then we are done with them.”

And the almost 50,000 members of the “SORRY I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THIS SUNCHIPS BAG” page.

The company says they are going back to the drawing board to develop a better bag (check out this great piece from NPR) and to improve “the consumer experience.”

What do you think the REAL reason is for this change?  The drop in sales over the past 18 months since the bag was introduced?   Or perhaps the criticisms about how the bags compost?

It is hard to believe a little crunch was behind this decision.  And a little sad if it was.


Deborah Fleischer is President of Green Impact, a strategic environmental consulting practice that helps companies engage stakeholders and bring their successes to life through words.  Check out our new green team tool, Corp Green.

Deborah Fleischer is founder and president of Green Impact, a strategic sustainability consulting practice that helps companies walk the green talk. She helps companies design and launch new green strategies and programs, as well as communicate about successes. She is a GRI-certified sustainability reporter and LEED AP with a Master in Environmental Studies from Yale University and over 20-years of direct experience working on sustainability-related challenges in both the public and private sectors. She brings deep expertise in sustainability strategy, stakeholder engagement, program development and written communications.Deborah has helped to design and implement numerous successful cross-sector partnerships and new green initiatives, including the California Environmental Dialogue, Curb Your Carbon and the Institute at the Golden Gate.She has helped create lasting alliances among such organizations as Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy with companies such as Disney, Arco, Bank of America and Passport Resorts.You can follow her occasional tweet @GreenImpact or contact her directly at

One response

  1. I think a drop in sales of 11% would be a good enough reason to go back to the drawing board. After all, there is not much value in selling a ‘green’ product if the market doesn’t want it. This is why it’s great to hear that the company is tweaking the product packaging so that it becomes more ‘palatable’ to chips eaters out there. But can they do it without increasing the product price? Interesting to follow this. But good on Frito Lays for wading into such challenging territory.

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