PURCHASE, N.Y. – With the introduction of i-crop in the United Kingdom, PepsiCo Inc. seeks to improve the crop management practices of farmers that supply it with raw materials. The company in conjunction with Cambridge University developed the I-crop, a web-based tool that will allow farmers to monitor, manage and reduce their use of water and carbon emissions while maximizing yield and quality.
“Farming is in the DNA of our business – we rely on fresh produce every day,” said Richard Evans, president of PepsiCo in the U.K. and Ireland. “Finding ways to produce more food with less environmental impact is essential to our future. I-crop has the potential to revolutionize the way we farm, enabling our farmers to save costs and water and carbon consumption, while at the same time improving their yields. I am immensely proud of this innovation which I hope will also benefit PepsiCo farmers around the world.”
Trials of i-crop are under way at 22 farms in the U.K., where on Oct. 18 PepsiCo announced plans to reduce carbon emissions and water usage by 50% across the farming of its core crops in the next five years. The technology will be rolled out in Europe in 2011 and then in the United States. The company hopes to take it to India, China, Mexico and Australia by 2012.
PepsiCo’s announcement comes days after Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Bentonville, Ark., announced a sustainable agriculture effort focused on promoting locally produced foods as well as developing improved sustainable production practices. The retailer is focusing on the agriculture supply chain in the same manner in which it approached its own supply chain. When the Wal-Mart announced its initial sustainability initiative five years ago, it focused on removing waste from its supply chain to improve efficiencies. In its effort to produce more food with fewer resources and less waste the company plans to follow a similar pattern.
By 2011 Wal-Mart expects its largest growers to provide it with detailed analyses of their production practices, drilling down to specifics such as how much fertilizer and water are used to produce a specific crop. With the information Wal-Mart will work with its suppliers to improve production practices.