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When it comes to quick snacking, it is often convenient to grab a pack of chips, be it from a vendor in the local train or off the shelf at a grocery shop. What actually differentiates the preference of buying a branded chips pack from an ordinary stuff is the quality of the former and confidence of it being processed and packed in a clean environment. But are all FMCG companies practising best cleaning practices? Clean India Journal takes a peek into the cleaning and facility management practices of Pepsico and Balaji Wafers.

The The top snacks maker PepsiCo Foods (FritoLay India) with its flagship brands Kurkure and Lays dominate the Rs9,400-crore Indian snacks market followed by Gujarat-based Balaji, Indore’s Yellow Diamond, DFM Foods’ Crax Parle Namkeens besides ITC’s Bingo snacks, Haldiram’s and Bikanerwala.

The salted snacks market has been growing 25% a year, and smaller players have been fuelling category growth as much as bigger ones like PepsiCo, ITC and Haldiram’s. The Better Off wealth group in India accounts for 51% of the Potato Chips market by value, despite comprising only 44% of the population. This highlights the strong potential for premium and value-added products in what is the second-most valuable Savory Snacks market in India.

The demand for snacks is increasing with the youth consumption segment being more of a grab-and-go types. Yet, the cleaning and hygiene processes are largely manual in most of the snacks manufacturing facilities.

The FMCG segment, though one of the largest in India, as far as cleanliness goes, lacks automation. Even the bigger brand houses are still going by the old manual cleaning. “Now, the industry is actually looking at automation of cleanliness and hygiene,” said Jaideep Kotnis, General Manager-HR at Pepsico India Holdings Pvt. Ltd-Pune. A local cleaning contractor has been deployed to maintain the shopfloor and housekeeping at the Pepsico unit at Ranjangaon in Pune.

“At this unit, we have been partly successful in introducing mechanized cleaning. Our local contractor is now using scrubber-drier for floor cleaning and innovative tools like telescopic rods for cob-web cleaning,” he added.

Cleaning, especially in food manufacturing units like snacks and savories, has a much wider implication and application. While hygiene is a priority, safety is equally important in food units. Oil, spices, water, and other ingredients used in the manufacturing process, leave the floor greasy. Improper flooring and wrong cleaning chemicals & cleaning processes make the floor slippery, causing worker safety issues. Mechanization of cleaning processes ensures safety at workplace.

“Along with mechanization of cleaning processes, the cleaning industry should also get into the ways and means of ensuring the safety of their employees. Cleaning in factories is not just limited to shopfloors but also other areas where we deal with hazardous processes like the LPG area or the roof.

“The health, hygiene & cleanliness practices at Pepsico have to mature to meet the European cleaning standards which we get to see in some of the plants in India. It is a journey that we have embarked on and we still need to meet a level of comfort.

“In a food plant like Pepsico, where a lot of potato-waste ends up in the drains, we do not have mechanized cleaning solutions for drains here. We have looked for solution providers locally but are yet to find one. A large part of India is resorting to manual cleaning of drains even today. There are suction machines and there are also people who clean the septic tanks but when it comes to cleaning of drains, even in the MIDC line, a lot happens manually. Our existing local vendor too has not come up with a mechanized solution.

While outsourcing is a better option when it comes to operations and maintenance, the service provider should have the capability to deliver. “We did outsource Utility services to another vendor previously but their expertise in these services did not meet expectations. This is a specialized service and the service provider should be able to rise to demanding situations.

“We would prefer to mechanise, as it puts the system and processes in place. Because in manual cleaning, if the operator is absent or on leave, another new person has to be trained and the quality of the work suffers,” added Jaideep.

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