"Our aim is to decouple, so our business can grow sustainably, while decreasing environmental impacts," said Jim Andrew, chief sustainability officer, PepsiCo, in the firm's ESG summary report
"There is still much more work to be done, and we cannot do it alone, so we – in partnership with our value chain partners, communities, NGOs and government leaders – will continue investing in action, innovation and partnerships that enable us all to realize a more sustainable future."
Regenerative agriculture and environmental progress
Defined as a set of farming principles and practices that improve and restore ecosystems while building resilience, regenerative agricultural practices have become a priority for PepsiCo and its more than 7 million acres of agricultural farmland across the globe.
"Our approach is outcome-oriented, and to some extent, we are practice agnostic. We’re supporting regenerative agricultural practices that aim to make soil healthier, sequester carbon, improve watershed health and biodiversity, and strengthen farmer livelihoods. We’re working closely with our farmers and intermediary suppliers to embed these practices throughout our agricultural supply chain," said the company.
So far, PepsiCo has transitioned more than 345,000 acres to regenerative agriculture practices in the US and Canada, on its journey of converting all seven million acres of its farmland to regenerative farming methods by 2030.
Farmer adoption has been strong with 100% of participants in demo programs adopting regenerative practices, thanks to a $2m co-investment fund to continue to incentivize farmers to adopt regenerative practices.
"Regenerative techniques not only protect against soil erosion and water depletion, but they can also help farmers grow more food on the same amount of land. These techniques typically require fewer inputs, so they can also lead to higher margins and greater profitability for our farmers," noted the company.
The company also reported that it reduced Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from a 2015 baseline supported by renewable energy sources. In 2021, Scope 3 emissions – which account for 93% of the company's emissions – increased by 5%, however, from a 2015 baseline, due largely to unprecedented business growth.
In its water conservation efforts, PepsiCo improved its operational water-use efficiency by 18% in high-water risk areas from a 2015 baseline against a target of 25% by 2025 and replenished 34% of water used in operations to local watersheds in 2021 -- a total of more than 6.1 billion liters of water.
Nutrition: saturated fat, added sugar, sodium
In an effort to expand its portfolio to provide consumers with more product choices with improved nutrition, PepsiCo has set several ingredient reduction goals pertaining to saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium.
Four years ahead of schedule in 2021, PepsiCo achieved its saturated fat reduction goal of 75% of its convenient foods portfolio (i.e. not exceeding 1.1 grams of saturated fat per 100 calories).
In addition, 53% of PepsiCo's beverage portfolio volume now has fewer than 100 calories from added sugars per 12-oz serving. Two-thirds (66%) of its convenient foods portfolio volume does not exceed 1.3 milligrams of sodium per calorie.
The company noted that it is also making an effort to include more nutrient-dense ingredients in its products as part of its 'diverse ingredient goal' emphasizing more plant-based ingredients.
In 2021, for instance, PepsiCo and Beyond Meat's Planet Partnership debuted Beyond Meat Jerky (which includes pea and mung bean proteins), the joint venture's first product.
"We are purposely incorporating more diverse ingredients in both new and existing products that are better for the planet and deliver nutritional benefits," said PepsiCo.
"We are prioritizing chickpeas, plant-based proteins, and whole grains, and expanding our positioning in the nuts and seeds category."