During this summer PepsiCo has been in agricultural news for a number of projects that portrays the mega-food and drink company as an expert in sustainable agricultural production of nearly any and every type of crop grown in the world.
Two years ago, Coca Cola Company had speakers making presentations to groups about sustainable agriculture with a focus on improving the production of ingredients used in the company’s focus of beverages, mainly juices. Now, PepsiCo has taken the lead in promoting itself as a leader in sustainable agriculture of a wider variety of crops, which is natural because of its ownership of 19 different product lines with the biggest being Quaker, Frito-Lay and beverage brands. Similar to most large multinational corporations, PepsiCo has its charitable foundation, and agricultural projects appear to be the beneficiaries of more foundation funding.
Yesterday, the PepsiCo Foundation announced a public-private partnership aimed at dramatically increasing chickpea production and increasing food security of Ethiopia. The other partners are the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The program, being called Enterprise EthioPEA, will support the Ethiopian government’s agriculture sector development plans. The EthioPEA program aims to help 10,000 Ethiopian farmers to double their chickpea production by “applying more modern agricultural practices and irrigation techniques” so that chickpeas are available for the country’s population and for export.
The news release explains that this program fits within PepsiCo’s long-range agricultural plans. “For PepsiCo, chickpea-based products are an important part of the company’s strategy to build a $30 billion global nutrition business by 2020.”
The company sways toward crop production being more appropriate for investment than animal, meat production. “With an average of 22 percent protein, chickpeas are a more sustainable alternative to meat and have the potential to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes,” it was announced.
The full explanation of PepsiCo’s agricultural focus was provided in a one-sentence statement. “PepsiCo’s investment in Enterprise EthioPEA is part of a global strategy to make the company a leader in sustainable agriculture around the world, and the latest example of the company’s proven and transferable market-based model, which advances healthy nutrition and long-term financial performance.”