The Life of a Crisp!

Thursday, January 05, 2017 - 13:19

Picture in your head, your favourite bag of crisps; Think of the flavour, shape, texture, the colour of the crinkly packaging, how much they cost you…

Now try and take a guess at how many jobs are involved in creating that one bag of crisps?
Maybe a Farmer to grow the potatoes, someone in a factory sorting them, maybe someone creating the bag for them to go in, then straight to a supermarket…right?

WRONG!!!

For just one bag of your favourite crisps, there will be at least 16 different functions getting involved in getting them from the farm into your fingers!!
Now when we talk functions, we mean areas within a business like, Engineering, Sales, Marketing, IT etc. Within each of these functions, there will be lots of teams working together to get your crisps ready for you to eat.

Let’s tuck into the life of your favourite bag of crisps and see if we can open your eyes to just some of the Tasty Careers available in the food & drink industry!

I’m a potato!

So I’m currently a potato in a lovely field full of nourishing soil, which has been tested by Agronomists to investigate ways of improving the soil productivity to maximise the production of consistently high quality potatoes (like me) without harming the environment!

The Farmer will have a team who work alongside him, including an Agricultural Machine Operator, who ensures all the machinery and equipment used during my potato-y life is up to scratch, a Biochemist who researches the interaction between plants and herbicides and develops genetically engineered crops that are resistant to drought, disease and so on; meaning I’ll be one tough cookie…I mean potato.

There may also be a range of General Farm Workers on hand, as well as ad hoc help from Rural Surveyors, who provide a range of professional and technical advice to farms and estates to help them make the best use of their land.

Transporting the tatties

So now, as a grown-up, happy and healthy potato, I am now ready to be made into a crisp and that doesn’t happen just by magic! 

Firstly, a Planner and Warehouse Manager will arrange for an HGV Driver to collect me from the farm and take me to a warehouse. I’ll be greeted at the warehouse by a Warehouse Operative who will unload me, maybe using a forklift truck, then they’ll  check to see if I’m damaged, store me in a temperature controlled area of the warehouse and make a record of when I was received and stored so people know where I am!  All the while, they will ensure the warehouse is a clean, tidy and safe place to be!  

This is all overseen by a Supply Chain Manager.

Show time

I’m now in the right place, and the production team are ready for me! A Production Manager and Manufacturing Manager are ultimately responsible for me right now, making sure all their Operation Team Leaders and Skilled Operatives are doing their job of ensuring the constant supply of raw materials (me – the potato!) and that all machines are running at optimum speeds.

All of these machines, which will do everything from wash me, chop me, bake me, crinkle cut me, flavour me etc. will have been scrupulously designed and maintained by Food Production Engineers. Food Production Engineers are VERY special engineers, as they are multi-skilled, meaning they will be electrical and mechanical engineers as well as foodie experts who will know how to fix a machine without impacting the taste and quality of the food you’ll be eating!!

For the Engineers to know what types of machines to make in order to get my shape and flavour correct, a whole team of New Product Development Chefs, Technologists & Assistants will have had to have designed me first! They all work together, to discover new flavours and ideas, or update already great products, ensuring they can create the best tasting and looking crisp, without affecting the quality or healthiness!  There’s no good developing the best tasting crisp in the world, only to then find out its 1,000 calories per bite and won’t meet UK food regulations!

This is why we need Nutritionists to keep us on track and work with Quality Assurance Technicians/Auditors and Technical Co-ordinators to ensure we comply with all the safety and quality specifications. 

The link between the product development kitchen and the production line is the responsibility of a Process Technologist, who ensures that I make a smooth transition from trial and testing stages to the full crispy production.

That’s a wrap

Ok, so now I look like a crisp & taste like a crisp, I need a bag to make me look “a-peel-ing” to the world! Now it may just look like a bag to you, but this shiny, foil-y, plastic-y type material has been specifically created by Packaging Developers to make sure my new home will keep me as fresh and tasty for as long as possible! They’ll also have needed to make sure that my bag isn’t too expensive to make.  You’re buying me as a quick and tasty snack, not as a gourmet main meal – so let’s keep this cheap and sustainable!

Speaking of which; is my bag recyclable? This is very important to an Environment Manager who will do everything in their power to ensure all company procedures are improved to increase the opportunity to reduce, re-use and recycle.

Alternatively, a Buyer will help source the cheapest, best quality material for my new bag; after all, they chose where I came from to begin with!

My new bag will also need to look pretty slick so that I am both beautiful on the inside and the outside!  This is the job of a Packaging Designer along with the Brand Managers. Whether I am part of a multipack bag, or sold individually, there will be differences in the way I look and the way I will be stored, so the creation of attractive, functional packaging is imperative.

Marketing Managers and their Executives/Assistants will now work with the visuals they’ve been given from the brand and packaging team to create supermarket in-store posters, social media posts online adverts and maybe even TV adverts to get my name out there to the right people, in the right place at the right time!

I might be a hot and spicy, party snack – no point putting an advert of me in the local newspaper in black and white.  I need to have big, bright fiery colours and be advertised boldly down the snack aisle of the supermarket, with a social media competition to win a year’s free subscription to your favourite music provider, which can play all your favourite music at your next hot and spicy salsa party!!! Ok, maybe not a salsa party, but I’m an exotic crisp; you’ve got to let me dream!!

The Marketing Department's mates over in Sales now have to price me right, so that the company that made me can make a tidy profit, without ripping off the Retailer (as they’ll want to make a profit too!), who in turn don’t want to rip of the consumer (that’s you)!

So, Sales Managers will work with their colleagues in Finance, perhaps a Management Accountant or Finance Manager, who will help them to get their profit margins looking nice and tasty, as well as working with an Account Manager, who will keep the Supermarket Managers ‘Happy-as-Larry’.

In addition to all of the above, such a large crisp manufacturing company will require a huge dedicated IT system with a variety of technical equipment on site, so it’s the responsibility of a Systems Development Manager to make sure everything is running smoothly. 

So, all that effort and all those people, for one bag of crisps.

Inspired? Or just hungry?