Using the Power of the Sun to Help Make Sunchips Multigrain Snacks

April 22, 2008

Governor Schwarzenegger Inaugurates Solar Field at Frito-Lay’s Modesto, CA Facility on Earth Day


PLANO, Texas - SunChips, Frito-Lay’s popular line of multigrain snacks, is living up to its name by using solar energy to help make some of the snacks at its Modesto, Calif. manufacturing facility. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inaugurated the new solar field today on Earth Day. The recently installed solar concentrator fields at the facility, one of seven locations where SunChips snacks are made in the U.S., will help drive the actual production of thousands of bags of “solar powered” SunChips daily. The solar field project is a result of a partnership with the California Energy Commission.

“I commend Frito-Lay and the California Energy Commission for working hand-in-hand to build this innovative project,” Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said. “The plant will harness the power of Central Valley sunshine to reduce its natural gas use, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions—all while helping us meet our renewable energy goals.”

To celebrate this milestone in the SunChips brand’s ongoing commitment to green, renewable energy, it hosted a special event to unveil the new solar concentrator field and honor those who made it possible. In addition to Governor Schwarzenegger, California Energy Commission Vice Chair James Boyd and Modesto Mayor Jim Ridenour were in attendance for this special inauguration.

“Frito-Lay is committed to utilizing innovative programs and technologies that help minimize our impact on the environment,” said Leslie Starr Keating, senior vice president, operations, Frito-Lay North America. “By harnessing the power of the sun at our Modesto facility, we continue on our environmental journey and demonstrate that we can be positive stewards of our business and the planet.”

To develop and install the new system, Frito-Lay partnered with the California Energy Commission who provided an R&D grant and enlisted the help of American Energy Assets, a provider of energy management solutions. Prior to construction, the installation design was reviewed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a research arm of the U.S. Department of Energy. The first half of the solar collection system is now fully functional. The entire system is expected to be operating by July 2008.

“It is indeed a bright day for California,” said Energy Commission Vice Chair James Boyd. “The sun is a great source of generating renewable electricity. In California, we are investing in smart solar technologies that demonstrate our commitment to energy efficiency, reducing our carbon footprint, and enhancing the state’s economy. As a national leader in energy research and development, the California Energy Commission is pleased and excited to partner with Frito-Lay in this innovative project. As a result of embracing the sun as an energy source, Frito-Lay will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and use less fossil fuels.”

The new five-acre solar concentrator field includes 54,000 square feet of concave mirrors designed to absorb sunlight. The solar energy captured by the 384 solar collectors will generate steam that helps heat the cooking oil used in the SunChips manufacturing process. By utilizing steam in the manufacturing process, the facility will be able to significantly reduce its use of natural gas.

"SunChips’ focus on solar power is a natural fit, and by highlighting renewable energy, the brand hopes to inspire consumers to take their own small steps,” said Gannon Jones, vice president, marketing, Frito-Lay North America. “As consumers look for products that share and support their commitment to the planet, Frito-Lay recognizes the importance of sustainability initiatives like solar power for the production in Modesto.”

In addition to supporting solar energy,renewable energy certificates (RECs) have been purchased to match 100 percent of the electricity needed to produce SunChips snacks in the U.S. As a result, SunChips packaging includes the Center for Resource Solutions’ Green-e symbol to identify SunChips as a supporter of green energy through the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs).

Earlier this month, SunChips launched a new ad campaign to communicate its solar energy efforts and to encourage consumers to take their own small steps to live a brighter life. In addition to the national print, online and television advertising already running, SunChips will take an extra special step in honor of Earth Day by running a solar-powered print ad in newspapers across the country. The brand will also debut a solar-powered billboard in the Modesto, Calif. area.

Frito-Lay North America is committed to reducing its impact on the environment. Since 1999, Frito-Lay has implemented resource conservation programs that utilize innovative programs to reduce the resources needed to make its products. Commitment to sustainable growth is a core Frito-Lay value, as it is for parent company, PepsiCo, which aims to achieve Performance with Purpose.

SunChips multigrain snacks, originally introduced in 1991, contain heart healthy whole grains, zero grams of trans fats, and are made with Sunflower Oil. SunChips, available in Original, Harvest Cheddar, French Onion and Garden Salsa flavors, provide eighteen grams of whole grains per 1 ounce serving from a blend of corn, oats and wheat.

Frito-Lay North America is the $11 billion convenient foods business unit of PepsiCo, which is headquartered in Purchase, NY. In addition to Frito-Lay, PepsiCo business units include Pepsi-Cola, Quaker Foods, Gatorade and Tropicana.