PepsiCo to launch more beverages in India: Nooyi

Monday, 18 December 2006, 06:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: Global food products giant PepsiCo will soon launch some new beverages specially developed for India and is working with rival Coca-Cola on a new technology to measure pesticide residues in soft drinks, the company's President and Chief Executive Indra Nooyi said.

Addressing a press conference here, which she said was her first outside the US after assuming her present position Oct 1, Nooyi reiterated PepsiCo's commitment of investing $500 million in India over the next few years ago.

The $33 billion, US-headquartered company has already invested some $700 million in the country, including $500 million directly, and employs some 4,000 people and 60,000 more indirectly through supply and distribution network.

"India is among top two countries in the Asia Pacific region for us in revenue and growth," Nooyi said, adding PepsiCo's focus in India will be in all three businesses - 'treat for you,' 'better for you,' and 'good for you' products.

"We are in India for the long-haul," said the Chennai-born alumnus of the Madras Christian College and the Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata, who spends a few days in the Tamil Nadu capital every winter to be with her family.

Nooyi, who is among the highest-ranking corporate chiefs of Indian origin in the US, also spoke on the recent controversy in India over alleged high level of pesticides found in soft drinks manufactured by Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

"I am pleased to report that we - and the Coca-Cola Company - are in the process of validating a breakthrough, science-based method to reliably and consistently measure low levels of pesticide residues in finished soft drinks," she said.

"Without a doubt, our products are the safest in the world," Nooyi said, referring to the clean chit given to soft drinks manufacturers by a government-commissioned study, following protests by non-governmental organizations.

"To most people, we're a soft drink company - but in fact today our exports of Indian products generate more than $60 million annually."

Nooyi said her group was working closely not just with governments, institutions and universities for various programs - like "farm to fork" project for better quality seeds to farmers - but also to develop products for the Indian palette.

"On beverages, thanks to our newly opened, world-class research and development center in Gurgaon, we'll be introducing healthier soft drinks with fewer calories, along with new flavors," she said.

She said all of PepsiCo's products in India were trans-fat free, adding: "We are finding ways to reduce fats, sugar and salt in our content line for 'fun for you products' - treats like soft drinks and chips - that offer simple pleasures."

Giving examples, she said the Lehar Lites brands have 25 percent less oil, the roasted line of Indian snacks use oil only for seasoning and the Cheetos brand was available with 25 percent less fat.

Source: IANS
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