US: PepsiCo CEO admits "profound" change in US consumer habits
PepsiCo's CEO admitted she knew her strategy would be unpopular
The CEO of PepsiCo has acknowledged that the US is seeing a “profound” change in eating and drinking habits, but suggested the media and bloggers are partly to blame for a mistrust of food and drinks producers.
Speaking during a Q&A last week, organised by the Aspen Institute, Indra Nooyi said: “American tastes are changing in interesting ways – some things we can understand, some we can't. Clearly there's a health and wellness trend and focus, but what health and wellness means is confusing today.”
Nooyi flagged that consumers are now moving away from diet products because “they don't like artificial sweetners”. She added: “They are going back to consuming real sugar products, so that's a surprising shift.”
PepsiCo has this Summer launched a three-strong range "real" sugar version of its Pepsi cola brand.
Nooyi also challenged people's fears over GMO food and drinks. “With GMO, nothing is wrong with it and I don't know why people worry about those sorts of issues, but we are seeing that, because of the media and blogs, people are afraid of the food system.”
PepsiCo's boss also defended the company's decision to increase its focus on “nutritious” products and its efforts to improve its environmental record. "I made a decision with my board that I'd rather do what's right for PepsiCo over the duration of the company, which is decades, than doing something that did not have any courage behind it, but was good for me as an individual.
“I knew it would be unpopular, but I decided to do it with the support of the board.”
She added: "We live in a world where people are more foccused on quarterly profit than where the company is heading."
Nooyi has faced sustained pressue in the last year from activist investor Nelson Peltz to split the firm's beverage and snack divisions into two companies.
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