Foodtalk | A Heartwarming Visit to the Kitchens of Kurkure & Lays … behind the scene goodness @ Pepsico India

 Kurkure Lays, plant visit Pepsico India‘Comfort food is the food that makes us feel good, satisfied, calm, cared for and carefree. It’s food that fills us up emotionally and physically.
Finding comfort in food is a basic human experience.’
Ellie Krieger

First thoughts that swept through my head as we entered the Pepsico factory in Dhulagarh near Kolkata, a much anticipated trip into a promising kitchen. Hello Kurkure, have I missed you! It’s been a few years since I dived into a bag. One crunchy bite later, nostalgia flooded my soul, that old familiar taste that had serenaded me for several years. I was back! With an eclectic group of about a dozen ‘foodies’ flown  specially into Kolkata, we warmed up to each other over the hours drive to the factory. That drive was anything but mundane, action packed, but that’s a story for another day…Pepsico plant visit, KolkataA friend recently said to me that his entire family was addicted to Kurkure for 8 long years, and that’s quite a similar story across households in India. Kurkure, in hindi means crisp, now PepsiCos most most loved voted snacking brand in the Indian market, is a favourite with Indians across the globe. For me, a once in a blue moon guilty step off my routine.  There I was to discover that there’s so much more to the brand than just the snack. A brand that is constantly reinventing itself, attempting also to constantly improve nutritionally. It also makes great breakfast oats, one of my most favourite pantry ingredients.

Pepsico plant visit, KolkataThey’ve got the spice mix and product bang on! With 30 snacking options, Kurkure forms an iconic part of Indian food culture, a deep connect & nostalgia since being introduced in 1999. This entirely indigenous brand, made with trusted kitchen ingredients like rice, oil, corn, gram & spices, Kurkure has constantly re-invented itself to sustain its relevance to Indian culture and the Indian ethos. Yet the story is more than the plant producing snacks. It’s the larger picture of social responsibility that appealed to me, and that made the visit so worthwhile.pepsico-plant-visit-kolkata-2With the popularity of Kurkure, came many myths about the ingredients, about how good it might or might not be! One trip to the fully automated snack plant in Dhulbari proved otherwise. Prepared most hygienically in a state of art plant, it hits the spot for comfort food with the right spice blends and flavours. All ingredients in the Kitchen of lays are carefully sourced, efficiently managed and well stocked. It has now entered the traditional namkeens area which is proving to be equally popular!Pepsico plant visit, Kolkata

Pepsico plant visit, KolkataAnd then there is the Kitchen of Lays. Another heartening story right from the potato being germinated up to the chips that get sealed into bags, it’s a fascinating adventure. Overcoming challenges like a not a well developed supply chain, small land holdings, marginal farmers, loads of wastage etc, the company offers community support especially to farmers right from word go offering careful handling and the right variety of seeds. India is the only country outside of the US, where potato germ plasma and mini tuber are grown in greenhouses in Punjab. To help farmers minimize losses due to vagaries of nature, the company offers weather forecasts in collaborative farming to 24K farmers in the country. The partnership offers a 360 degree of engagement with best agronomy practices, soft loans, crop insurance, high quality seeds for better yields etc.Pepsico plant visit, KolkataTo think that much and more goes into the making of a mere pack of chips is a somewhat enlightening experience. Following the journey of the humble potato from a germ plasma to the fryer was fascinating. It makes the picture real, a story that comes alive with community collaborative farming, sustenance, social responsibility, good practices, the right potato and an efficient system. An automated system that works with precision, infra red sensors that pick out the slightest anomaly, dedicated happy workforce … and of course happy customers.Pepsico plant visit, KolkataSustainable growth, community development and minimizing the impact on the environment is worthy of praise! We were fortunate to experience the facility first hand. Right from very passionate hands on managers, spirited workers, an efficient management system, the fully automated plant operates impressively. What amazes is that PepsiCo’s growth in India has been guided by a philosophy of “Performance with Purpose”, the goal to deliver top-tier financial performance while creating sustainable growth. 06-1In practice, Performance with Purpose means providing a wide range of foods and beverages from treats to healthy eats; finding innovative ways to minimize their impact on the environment, providing a safe and inclusive workplace for employees globally; and respecting, supporting and investing in the local communities where they operate. For instance, in 2009, PepsiCo India achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first business to achieve ‘Positive Water Balance’ in the beverage world, a fact verified by Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu India Pvt. Ltd. The company has been Water Positive since then.
Pepsico plant visit, Kolkata
The Kaizen quality and productivity initiative where everyone is empowered, motivated and encouraged to add value contributes to safety, quality and productivity. With initiatives like that and three planks of renewable energy systems in place, for eg rice husk that generates steam to heat oil, or then frying that gives flash steam than runs a system to generate electricity, it’s hard to look at the packet of Lays or Kurkure the same way again. They just mean so much more now!

Photo courtesy Karan BhujbalThank you for opening your home and hearts to us Pepsico India!
{Photo courtesy Karan Bhujbal}

3 Comments

  • Shivangini
    4 months ago

    So disappointed with this post Deeba! I understand pepsico may have paid you for this trip but this is just a sellout. You write about making half your grains whole and using less sugar and using local produce… and then to say kurkure/lays is an okay option is just not what was expected from you. One of the biggest problems being faced by children in urban areas is obesity and processed foods like lays/kurkure are one of the biggest contributors to it. Even, samosa has better nutritional value than them. I dont need to tell you about these issues..you are more than well versed on it. And of course, you are well within your right what you put up on this blog but as a devoted reader of your blog, just so disappointed..I have seen you do other promotional/sponsored post but this goes so against the voice of this blog..like I said, this looks like a sellout…

    • 4 months ago

      Hi Shivangini. Thank you for taking the time to write in. To put your mind to rest, I was not paid for this. My point of visiting the facility was mere curiosity, an attempt to see how brands work, whether they have a CSR, and what their future footprints might be. I think you missed my point. There is a larger picture here, one of collaborative farming, of small loans, of green energy, of community and financial protection, a weather management system, of helping small land holders/farmers, of better seeds provided etc. Also action plans of moving towards better nutrition, of reducing sugar, of getting ‘positive water’ ratings, of hygiene, and reduced emissions among a slew of other things. Somewhere I am glad you brought up the discussion. Re the food choices we make against what is available in the market are our own. We cannot blame a brand for obesity etc. That is in our hands. I still think a packet of Kurkure is better hygienically, maybe nutrionally too as compared to a street side samosa. Kurkure has rice, corn & gram while samosas have maida & potatoes; both fried, both snacks. In the former the ingredients are carefully sourced, the processes monitored, the oil and energy clean. That however is not an endorsement of good and bad, as I still continue to enjoy both responsibly, a choice I make once in a while.

  • 4 months ago

    Our family also jee, we are also addicted to Kurkure.. bahut try kiya but kya karen ” Kontroll hee nee honda jee “” 😛

    On a serious note, the factory looks absolutely awesome like we see on those TV shows about Mega Factories… good to see such world-class factory in India.

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