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PepsiCo announces ambitious sustainability targets

Through the newly launched Positive Agriculture programme, the company is focusing on three core areas.

First,​ it has committed to spreading the adoption of regenerative farming practices across 7 million acres. The figure was approximately equal to 100% of the land used around the world to grow crops and ingredients for the company’s products, it said.

These efforts are estimated to lead to a net-reduction of at least three million tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. Furthering nearly a decade of progress with its Sustainable Farming Program (SFP) PepsiCo said it would continue to collaborate with farmers across 60 countries to adopt practices that would positively impact the land.  

PepsiCo’s Walkers brand in the UK recently introduced new ‘circular potatoes’ technology that uses waste potato peelings to manufacture low-carbon, nutrient-rich fertiliser.

Using the fertiliser is expected to reduce carbon emissions from growing potatoes for its Walkers crisps brand by 70%. It will be trialled with UK farmers in 2021 and across potato crops in Europe supplying its Lay’s brand from 2022.

Improving livelihoods of 250k people

Second,​ PepsiCo aims to improve the livelihoods of more than 250,000 people in its agricultural supply chain and communities, including economically empowering women.

The company said it would focus its work on the most vulnerable farming communities linked to its global value chain, including smallholder farmers, farm workers, women and minority farmers.

Through its Sustainable Farming Programme, PepsiCo already works directly with its farmers to share knowledge and practices which improve profitability and yields.

In markets such as, Russia, Turkey, the Ukraine and Romania, PepsiCo is working to create financial inclusion for potato growers by providing revenue streams and pre-payments so they have funding to buy fertilisers and seeds.

Sustainable sourcing for 100% of key ingredients

Third, PepsiCo has set out aims to sustainably source 100% of key ingredients. The target applies not only to its direct-sourced crops (potatoes, whole corn, oats, and oranges), but also important crops from third parties, such as vegetable oils and grains. Work on that was already underway in Europe, the business said.

In Hungary, the Ukraine and Russia, it is launching collaborative programmes with suppliers to further develop sustainable sourcing practices for its sunflower oil. The trials will look to improve yields, reduce inputs, improve soil health and provide a more productive crop, therefore minimising the impact on the environment.

“Any plan to tackle the urgent challenges facing the global food system must address agriculture, the source of nourishment for billions of people and a key lever to address climate change and inequality,”​ said PepsiCo chairman and chief executive Ramon Laguarta.

“As one of the world’s leading food and beverage companies, a resilient food system is essential to our business, and with our scale we have an opportunity and responsibility to drive meaningful change.

“PepsiCo’s Positive Agriculture agenda prioritizes investment, innovation, and robust collaboration with our farming partners to deliver impact around the world. Working together, we can reduce our collective carbon footprint, feed a rapidly growing population, and provide meaningful economic opportunities for more people.”

PepsiCo sources crops across 60 countries and supports more than 100,000 jobs in the agricultural supply chain. As of the end of 2020, the company said its direct-sourced crops were 100% sustainably sourced in 28 countries.

Globally, nearly 87% of its direct crops were sustainably sourced through its SFP, it said. Additionally, it achieved its goal to source 100% Bonsucro certified sustainable cane sugar globally by 2020 and achieved more than 99% physically certified palm oil by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

PepsiCo has a strict commitment to no deforestation, no development on peat, and no exploitation of indigenous people, workers and local communities. 

‘Collaboration, acceleration, transformation’

Silviu Popovici, chief executive officer of PepsiCo Europe, said: “Our crops need to be resilient to climate change and grown so they positively impact the planet. We will do that by focusing on collaboration, acceleration and transformation of farming practices.

“We need to collaborate with stakeholders, including farmers and our ingredient suppliers and we need to accelerate regenerative practices at scale, so they become the norm for farmers. Finally, it’s time for a digital revolution on farms, making data as critical as the tractor in order to grow crops more sustainably.”​ 

Sheila Bonini, senior vice president of private sector engagement at World Wildlife Fund said: “Working across the supply chain is necessary if we are to transform the food system, reduce carbon emissions, support healthy watersheds, restore biodiversity, and improve livelihoods.

“It’s encouraging that PepsiCo is announcing an approach to their agricultural supply chains that can be positive for both nature and people and WWF looks forward to partnering with PepsiCo on an ambitious and scaled regenerative agriculture agenda.”

The Positive Agriculture agenda follows PepsiCo’s recent announcement to double its science-based climate goal. It is targeting a reduction of absolute GHG emissions across its value chain by more than 40% by 2030, as well as pledging to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

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