No one can eat just one! Does this remind you of something? Probably I must put it as “If you grew up in the 90s you would definitely remember this” category. Lays! One of the most iconic brands of our generation has seen it go from just another Chip to the chip for every occasion. We have it every where, from our vending machines at offices to hidden closets for the nights with friends and to the nail biting cricket matches.
For the last 20 years, since Lays first started getting its attention here in the country, besides the packaging, there has been no significant change in the chip. It has been consistent in its taste, shape, size and flavor. All of this credit, which is maintaining the quality goes to the guys at PepsiCo. In our recent visit to the plant in Kolkata, where most of the chips for the country are made and packaged, I was lucky to witness the whole process of making the Golden Chip that we adore so much.
The process though meticulous, is something that will make you understand the kind of quality standards that they maintain. From procurement of the raw materials (potato) to helping farmers grow the best crop for the season, PepsiCo makes sure the family (their famers) are never out of work. The potatoes that are procured to make Lays have certain standards to adhere to, which includes the size of the potato, the amount of starch content and delivery. The starch in any potato plays a very important role in making the chip crisp like we like it to be.
The process of peeling to packaging is all in all approximately a 10 step process. The potatoes that arrive from the farms are first brought in to be washed and peeled. All the processes except one are automated. The peeling process peels a large chunk of potatoes at a maddening pace and I was often reminded of the NAT GEO show – . It is only after peeling that where the manual intervention happens where one has to segregate potatoes that may not be fit for consumption. Also some of the large sized potatoes are halved to fit the slicers.
Slicing is again automated where the chips take shape. Post which it is washed with fresh water thrice until most of the starch is removed. It is then moved to the large fryer that fries the chips in seconds. There is one unique procedure that we observed at the making was that post the frying, there is a very discreet procedure that with the help of automation, segregates the burnt chip from the golden chip. It is very innovative because without any human intervention, you get your best quality Golden chip.
It is after this process, that the chips are moved to the packaging centers through overhead pipes. The packaging is differentiated into 20gms and 40gms packets by manual work and then sent for distribution to our very own stores for us to pick it up. One other interesting procedure that we saw was the checking of each batch packages for any leakages, uniform weight and design. Two packets from each batch are randomly picked up tested for any kind of leakage or uniformity in weight.
I must at the end say that, post this I for once may not take the packet of Lays lightly, having seen its procedure from procurement to distribution.