PepsiCo cites nutrition progress in U.K., Ireland

by Eric Schroeder
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LONDON — PepsiCo UK & Ireland has achieved several targets geared toward providing healthier products but is falling short on others, according to the company’s “2011 Health Update” released late last month.

“Some of the targets we set ourselves last year fall within the timeframe of this update, others are longer term and will take years to deliver,” said Richard Evans, president of PepsiCo UK & Ireland. “We have not met all of our short-term targets and in the spirit of openness have chosen to be transparent about the setbacks, the challenges we have faced and how we propose to address them.”

Among the targets PepsiCo UK & Ireland said it has achieved are the use of healthier oils in all reformulation and new product development; wider availability of fruit juice in fast-food outlets by 2012; and 65% of carbonated soft drink can and bottle sales to be no sugar by 2015.

Additionally, PepsiCo UK & Ireland said it is “on track” to achieve several other pledges, including its goal of reducing the sugar level of regular Pepsi by 4% by 2012, surpassing existing Food Standards Agency salt reduction targets for all crisps and snacks by 2012, and investing 70% of the company’s R.&D. budget to deliver products defined as healthier by 2012.

“Some progress” has been made in introducing a single serve cap of 160 calories across the company’s savory snacks without positive nutrition. PepsiCo UK & Ireland said the proportion of its portfolio that meets this pledge has increased to 73.3% in 2010 from 71.8% in 2008. The company also said it has made “some progress” in expanding delivery of oats into meals beyond breakfast by 2015.

PepsiCo UK & Ireland indicated it has shown “mixed progress” on its target of delivering 1.8 billion servings of fruits and vegetables and 1.7 billion servings of whole grain per year by 2012. According to the company, it delivered 1.9 billion servings of whole grain in 2010, but only 1.56 billion servings of fruits and vegetables.

“No progress” has been made on the target of making 50% of savory snacks baked, or including positive nutrition, by 2015, although the company said it is developing plans to meet the target.

“Currently at 9% of total portfolio, down slightly from 10% in 2008,” PepsiCo UK & Ireland said of its progress. “While we have grown the sales of these products, sales of the whole portfolio grew at a higher rate so reducing the percentage figure. We are investing in achieving the technological breakthrough required to achieve this stretching target.”

Mr. Evans stressed that PepsiCo UK & Ireland is not acting as an autonomous company, but rather as part of a wider industry process of change centered on a partnership with the Department of Health.

“We seek to be an intrinsic part of this process and use our networks, resources and marketing capabilities positively to improve the diets of U.K. consumers,” he said. “We want to strengthen efforts to achieve public health goals and the ‘energy in, energy out’ balance that is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle in an increasingly sedentary environment.”

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