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Monday, March 5, 2012

The new Lays Baked

In today’s fast paced world, especially in India, people don’t eat healthy, because healthy food takes time to make and time is at a premium, so instead they gorge on whatever junk food is available to them.  With consumption of junk food reaching new heights perhaps even higher than Burj Dubai (the tallest building in the world),  the obese population has risen manifold, at a pace faster than the pace at which we grow our population, leading to a lot of lifestyle diseases such as Diabetes etc.
So to ensure that the food and beverage companies don’t get slapped with sanctions for producing unhealthy and unethical profit making products they are now turning to adding some “healthy” junk” foods in their portfolio.

Lays Baked is Pepisco’s latest endevaour to enter into the “healthy” potato chips space. Apparently these chips are not fried like regular Lays chips but instead they are baked. According to Pepsico, Lays Baked chips have 50% less fat than regular Lays. This is the discriminator that Pepsico is using to sell the new chips to the urban audiences which live on chips as if it was a main course meal like dal roti/rice. So if you want to eat chips, eat the healthier version, is what seems to be their mantra.

Priced at Rs 15 per packet, the chips are an expensive proposition. Pepsico’s thought would be that, if it is healthy it should be expensive than the regular one. Why price it at the same cost as the existing Lays range?  I am sure their market research would have shown that there is a niche segment willing to pay a premium to eat “healthy chips” but also I am a believer that market research done by “independent” agencies is biased towards showing the results that the company wants to see. If it wasn’t then the research agency wouldn’t get paid or would rarely get another research task to carry out.

Coming back to Lays Baked, a question the public should ask Pepsico – why should one pay Rs 15 for 10 chips in packet (all the chips may not even be complete, some would be broken too). Does it make economic sense to eat “healthy” junk food which is so atrociously expensive?  Secondly, their availability in the market sucks big time! It is available only in select outlets across cities, whereas regular Lays are available at even a panwala. Lastly, why stop at 50% fat free? Why not make them completely fat free if you are promoting “healthy” foods? Does Pepsico indulge in similar half measures in US or European countries? Guess not, after all the FDA is pretty powerful consumer advocate in the developed world.

So Pepsico, if you are going down the lane of “healthy” foods, go the whole hog and delight us!

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