Overall, Tostitos are a cheap tortilla chip that are very accessible for consumers who do not have a lot of disposable income, and they should not bear any blame when buying PepsiCo products. For consumers that have more choices and have the privilege to think about the sustainability of their food, there are a plethora of other brands that have sustainability at the forefront of their agenda that taste just as comforting as Tostitos. It is extremely difficult to regulate a company that holds so much market power, and boycotting is not effective because so many people rely on their cheap products. Therefore the best course of action is to give your business to companies that stand by their values and are making a positive change.
Tostitos Chips are made from only corn, vegetable oil, and salt. It was very difficult to find specific information on where the corn is sourced from, and no information about the oil. Tostitos is a subsidiary of Frito Lay, and Frito Lay is owned by PepsiCo. While PepsiCo is now going through massive rebranding, and trying to fix their image, the company is notorious for their contribution to plastic pollution and overall negative impact on the environment. On the Frito Lay website, the first image that pops up is about creating a sustainable food system. The rest of the home page showcases what the company is doing to reduce its impact on the environment, and it is painfully clear that it’s all greenwashing. They highlight the fact that they have only LED lights in their factory and how much CO2 that saves. That is the absolute bare bare bare minimum for a multi billion dollar company like PepsiCo. They also claim that about 80% of their corn is sustainably sourced, but even in their corporate sustainability report there was no clarification on what ‘sustainably sourced’ means or any information about what part of the country or world their corn is coming from.
There is absolutely zero information on how these tortilla chips are made. I found how typical bagged tortilla chips are made, and it seems as though there is a lot of water involved in the process as well as plastic. The PepsiCo and Frito Lay website claim that 80% of their packaging is recyclable or compostable, but chip bags are notoriously difficult to recycle properly. Additionally, PepsiCo had a goal of reducing virgin plastic in their packaging, and from the year 2018 to 2019 they only reduced virgin plastic by 1%. When it comes to their agricultural practices, there is very little indication that PepsiCo is making and shifts in their operations to protect the soil, or harvest in a more sustainable manner. It is clear that PepsiCo is very well aware of what a sustainable supply chain looks like, but has refused to allocate the necessary resources to make a dramatic shift. The lack of transparency combined with the massive amount of greenwashing is disturbing, and is a reminder to why I try to boycott PepsiCo products when possible.
In addition to having no information about their manufacturing and distribution processes, there is also no information on their labor standards. In their 2019 sustainability report they make very broad claims about their commitment to safe and equitable labor practices like, “we take action to respect human rights”, without any further information. Working conditions for farmers varies enormously, and without any transparency consumers can only assume the worst.