As a part if the Healthy Living Summit that I attended a few weeks ago, I got to tour the Fritolay Factory in Beloit, WI.
Now, I’m sure some of you are thinking, “What in the world does Fritolay have to do with being healthy???” Don’t worry, that was my first reaction as well. However, I was very excited about going on a factory tour, so I jumped at the chance to do so.
I should also add that I went down to Chicago Thursday night to meet up with the rest of the group and then took a bus ride back to Beloit Friday morning. I know it doesn’t completely make sense…but it is what it is.
On the way there, we were fed delicious Quaker and Fritolay snacks. We also had the opportunity to try some of their newest flavors: Garden Tomato and Basil, and Tangy Carolina Barbecue. The Barbecue was alright, but I really enjoyed the Garden Tomato Basil. They tasted really fresh and herby.
In between snacks we had lots of fun playing Catch Phrase that Caitlin brought for the trip. It was my first time playing, and it is such a great game!
(photo borrowed from Caitlin)
Yes, friends, I know. I work at a toy store, how have I not played this game?!?
After a long time on the road (There was some confusion about directions and it ended up taking over two hours to get from Chicago to Beloit!) we finally made it to the plant!
Once we got there, we got to hear a presentation about Fritolay and then got to tour the factory. I really enjoyed the presentation, and learned a lot of things about Fritolay that I had no idea a company that large would even care about.
Fritolay as a company is actually doing a lot to promote healthy living, and be environmentally conscious all while keeping workers and suppliers happy.
Here are some things about the factory that I thought were interesting:
- As of this year (2010) they are a LEED Gold Certified facility. LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.
- 85% of all of the potatoes used in this plant come from central Wisconsin. Also, all of these potatoes are processed through the factory within 8 hours of being dug up. That is impressive.
- All of the testing for the Fritolay Potatoes is done in Rhinelander, WI. It is done in Rhinelander because it gets cold enough there year round that they don’t have worry about rotting or bacteria. (At least that cold weather is good for something!)
Fritolay has a long history of encouraging healthy snacking. Here is a fun chart of all of the “healthier” snack foods that they have released over the years.
I put “healthier” in quotes, because seeing all of these products made me think about some things.
- Low Fat, Low Cal, Baked, and Reduced Fat do not necessarily mean that they are really “healthier.” I suppose this all depends on how you approach your diet.
- Regular Lays potato chips only have three ingredients. Three real ingredients: Potato, Sea Salt and Sunflower (or Corn) Oil. Heather did a really great comparison post about this on Side of Sneakers. Go here and check it out!
- Also, I enjoy lightly salted Fritos a LOT more than normal Fritos. I am not that big of a Frito fan, but I could definitely eat lots of the lightly salted variety.
During the actual factory tour, we were not allowed to take photos, but the guides were kind enough to take some for us. You can check out all of us in our saftey goggle and hairnet glory here.
The whole presentation about FritoLay and the processes and environmental initiatives that they are taking was a lot of fun to learn about and very interesting. I really enjoy finding out how things are made and the process that businesses go through before the product is seen by consumers.
I also really enjoy when large companies prove to me that they really do care about the little things and are making an effort to do the right thing and make a difference.
Even though I came in slightly confused about how Fritolay has anything to do with “healthy” living I definitely came out with some different opinions and now understand why they were a part of the Summit. Even though every single product they make might not be the most healthy, they definitely have some great options and are continually reconsidering new ways to make their products better.
Every person that I met from Fritolay and at the Beliot plant was friendly, happy and knowledgeable.
Thank you Fritolay for giving us the opportunity to learn about your company and tour the plant!