For a few years now in India, PepsiCo has been making its snacks with rice-bran oil, a fact that allowed it to stick a “snack smart” logo on the packaging. After all, the snacks then “had 40% less saturated fat, zero trans fats and no added monosodium glutamate,” the Economic Times reports. The publication notes that the company made various pronouncements “across various multimedia campaigns” about the oil switch back in 2007.
Well, that was then. Recently, the company didn’t bother to use those various multimedia campaigns to let folks know about a different switch: a return to the original, cheaper palm oil. It simply removed the logo from such products as Lay’s chips, Krukure, Uncle Chipps, and Cheetos.
Three officials tell the Times that the switch was driven by a cost-saving measure — stop using the pricier rice-bran oil because it wasn't driving sales. No rice bran oil; no snack smart logo. "Our analysis of consumer feedback on the use of rice bran oil showed that the consumer did not show any added preference to the use of rice bran oil," a PepsiCo spokesman told ET.
One thing the company still needs to do is update its Snack Smart website, snacksmart.co.in, which is still extolling the wonders of rice-bran oil. The unannounced oil switch and logo retirement, by the way, did not go unnoticed by health activists in India.
"If Pepsi spent crores telling consumers about the meaning of the 'snack smart' logo in the past, they should now tell consumers why the logo is off on the same marketing budgets," Centre for Science and Environment Director Sunita Narain told the Times.
The PepsiCo move comes as two new studies on ethical claims (such as organic, locally produced or fair trade) on food packaging indicate a positive impact consumer perception, according to researchers in France and the U.S.
Below, watch the 2007 launch campaign (and its speedy scroll, which reflects the footnote on its website: 'Relative to MFD date of Dec 2006 for Frito-Lay products Lay's, Kurkure, Uncle Chipps, Cheetos - all packs manufactured after that have 40% less Saturated Fats') explaining the "snack smart" label: