The Jelly Belly factory tour at its facility in Fairfield, CA, although photography was prohibited, would provide nuggets of useful information to anyone seeking information on the company's manufacturing process or capacity. As we visited on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, production was shut down although during the week, the factory runs 24 hours a day and visitors watch the action from overhead walkways. The tour guide revealed a few other tidbits: the plants uses 5 one-ton bags of corn starch, and 6,000 pounds of sugar each day to make 20 million Jelly Bellies. I am not researching any food companies, so this tour was a fun family outing. My kids went through the sample bar at least six times and the enjoyed the free samples handled out during the tour.
Many companies have removed the factory from their “factory tours” due to competitive concerns. Their tours show a subset or recreated factory operation. These still might be worthwhile to visit, especially if you could ask your tour guide a few good questions. A CI researcher could easily be lost in the crowds at factory tour based on the crowds at Jelly Belly and take the tour more than once. You could potentially see the manufacturer and model number of the equipment used. You could count the number of times per minute that the finishing tank revolved or an arm moved. You could count the number of packing machines in the packing area.
Combine the factory tour with a visit to the town or county’s real estate department to review any building permits and a drive around the facility to see if you can identify the third party shipper if the target company uses an outside shipping company. You can contain them later to ask about capacity if you have not obtained that from the plant.
Of course, if you are doing a manufacturing study, your client should have provided you with a tour of its facility so you would understand basic issues before examining the rival’s facility.
Jelly Belly’s website said about the factory tour, “Learn the secrets to how we create the legendary Jelly Belly jelly bean, and discover why it takes more than a week to make a single bean.” Jelly Belly needs training on CI, not how to do CI, but how to avoid giving valuable data to competitors.
These are just ideas, but if you do research jelly beans, my kids reported that the Dirt, Rotten Egg, Baby Wipes, and Boggers flavors are terrible. Don’t bother with them. These are not part of the official 50 flavors. Most of this category of Jelly Bellies were developed for the Harry Potter line.