‘We believe consumer demand for healthier choices is there’: PepsiCo expands its use of diverse ingredients

By Augustus Bambridge-Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

PepsiCo wants to expand its portfolio of 'diverse ingredients.' Image Source: bojanstory/Getty Images
PepsiCo wants to expand its portfolio of 'diverse ingredients.' Image Source: bojanstory/Getty Images

Related tags Pepsico Sustainability fruit and vegetables nuts and seeds legumes

Ingredients such as whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and plant-based protein are highly nutritious. Snacks major PepsiCo, in its shift towards expanding its ‘diverse ingredients’ portfolio, plans to produce products containing ingredients such as these, and is implementing a range of R&D to do so.

As part of its Pep+ initiative, which aims to make the company more sustainable and help the EU implement its green policies, the multinational aims to deliver 145bn portions of ‘diverse ingredients’ per year across its portfolio by 2030. A portion will consist of around 10% of the recommended daily amount of said diverse ingredient.

PepsiCo already has brands, such as snack brands Benenuts and Duyvis, which contain nuts, and vegetable gazpacho brand Alvalle, that contain diverse ingredients, but it wants to expand. For example, according to Sean Westcott, Senior Vice President of Research and Development, PepsiCo Europe, it is currently working on products involving chickpeas and whole grain corn. It is setting up multiple R&D initiatives to develop new products which contain diverse ingredients.

As part of our pep+ commitments, and as we provide nutrition guidance during the development of our food and beverage products, we consider recommendations for food and nutrient intakes from global and national nutrition authorities including the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Academy of Medicine and national public health authorities​,” Westcott told FoodNavigator.

Consuming diverse ingredients, such as legumes, whole grains, plant-based proteins, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds can help promote a more nutritionally complete diet, however there is currently an insufficient intake of these ingredients across Europe. As one of the world’s largest food and beverages companies, this is where we can play a role​.”

According to Westcott, as well as the health benefits which these ingredients provide, they are also “enhancing biodiversity and soil health in agriculture.​” This also aligns with the Pep+, which is a sustainability initiative as well as a health-related one.

PepsiCo also has several products which cut down on ingredients deemed to be unhealthy, such as Walkers 45% Less Salt (Walkers is what Lays are called in the UK), which as seen success, becoming a £30m brand in the UK and is estimated to be in 16% of UK households. What is the consumer appeal of such products?

Consumers’ snacking needs are evolving​,” Westcott told us. “Taste remains hugely important, but consumers are also looking for healthier options, with less sodium or saturated fats and more authentic and natural hero ingredients.

Thus far, our reduced sodium products have been performing well within our portfolio – Walkers’ 45% Less Salt range has grown rapidly in the UK since its launch last year. As such we believe consumer demand for healthier choices is there​.”

Using the guidance or organisations such as WHO, PepsiCo is committing that 75% of its food will meet or be below the category sodium targets by 2030.

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