PepsiCo has been operational there for a long time now. As we move forward, what is the kind of investment that you are looking at in Bangladesh?

While I cannot give you specific numbers; but what I can tell you is that when I look at the Bangladesh market and given that some of the discussions that we've had over the last day and a half, it's very clear that this market has tremendous potential. And as such, we will continue to invest together with our partner in developing our business in Bangladesh, whether that be in capacity, whether that be in agricultural capabilities that we need specifically for our foods business, whether that be in go to market, as well as in other areas. And we're looking and exploring ways of how we can collectively build a bigger business within beverages and foods in Bangladesh.

Transcom is a trusted partner with us for over 20 years now. So, we signed the first agreement with Mr. Latifur Rahman, back in March 2000. So, we're now partners for more than 22 years
Eugene Willemsen, CEO, PepsiCo, AMESA (Africa, Middle East and South Asia)

What is pep+ all about? What is PepsiCo doing in this regard?

Pep+ is our strategic end-to-end transformation initiative with sustainability at the center to create growth and value by operating within planetary boundaries and inspiring positive change for the planet and people. We believe that sustainability needs to be fully embedded in the overall business strategy and our plans and hence we launched pep+ about a year ago. pep+ consists of three different pillars - positive agriculture, positive value chain and positive choices.

PepsiCo is one of the largest food and beverage companies and as such has a significant agricultural footprint. We work globally with more than 100,000 farmers. As part of our positive agricultural pillar, we want to convert the land that we're using to grow our crops to regenerative agricultural practices, and at the same time, also uplift 250,000 people within our agricultural value chain and improve livelihoods. So that's a massive commitment, which we're planning to deliver globally.

 Then, the second pillar is positive value chain which consists of a few specific objectives - one is to become net zero by the year 2040, not just within our own four walls, but across the entire ecosystem within which we operate. This also aims at inclusion of our suppliers or farmers, as well as other partners that operate within our value chain. We're also planning to become net water positive by the year 2030. So that means that we're going to reduce water usage to the maximum extent possible within our operations and become a net water positive company. And then the third one (in positive value chain) is to significantly reduce the amount of virgin plastic that we're using. We want to reduce that by 50%, on a per serving basis by the year 2030. So that means that we need to look at all the possible ways to reduce usage of single use packaging, but also set up collection mechanisms for recycling, and include recycled material in our packaging, to ensure that we get to a full circular value chain for packaging.

And then the third and last pillar is positive choices. And that's all about evolving our portfolio to ensure that we continue to provide a broad set of choices for consumers with reduced/no sugar and reduced sodium and saturated fat.

In Bangladesh specifically, be it around Covid or other development needs, our endeavor is always to support the communities at large. To support communities impacted during Covid, we have provided 1.4 MM meals to underprivileged communities through our partnership with BRAC, a leading NGO in Bangladesh. PepsiCo Foundation along with BRAC also disseminated preventative information on Covid-19 to communities. PepsiCo has worked with BRAC to provide clean water access to underserved communities in Bangladesh on the project, “Safe Water for All” project. As part of the initiative, local water entrepreneurs created water treatment plants providing communities with access to safe drinking water at an affordable price in the disaster-prone areas of Cox’s Bazar.

You have many brands, both foods and beverages here. What has been the response of the consumers and what is your consumer connect strategy?

We're extremely proud of the footprint that we have in Bangladesh. We're the leading beverage company in Bangladesh. And we take tremendous pride in that. We're keen to build out that business of course, leveraging the brand portfolio that we have 7-Up Pepsi, and Aquafina. On the snacks side, we have Kurkure, Lay’s, which soon we're going to be producing locally in Bangladesh and Quaker Oats. Consumers rate our brands very highly and while we take pride it, there comes a tremendous responsibility to ensure that we continue to deliver high quality products and respond to consumer needs and evolving needs.

We're also going to scale up our snacks business locally, in partnership with Transcom. We're going to be producing Lay's potato chips in Bangladesh which is also in-line with the Government's strategy, of Make in Bangladesh.  We're going to be working with local farmers for potato farming needed to produce Lay's potato chips and to start with, we're going to have over 2000 farmers as part of the fold. Most of these are small scale farmers and it's phenomenal to hear them talk about the impact that the partnership with PepsiCo has on their yields, on their incomes and on the growing techniques that they can deploy in their fields.

The partnership with Transcom has been for over more than 20 years, now in Bangladesh. How is the association evolving? If you have any comments?

The partnership that we have with Transcom, we value it as one of our best partnerships globally. And in March 2000, we signed the agreement with Mr. Latifur Rahman and since then, we've built a great business together. But at the same time, we also believe that now after 20 years, we only are at the beginning, because I think there's so much more potential for us to create and scale up business together in Bangladesh. We really value the ethics of the company, the investments that the company is doing in scaling capabilities, both in terms of human capital, as well as digital evolution. In addition, the strong focus that the company has on sustainability whether that be in reducing the number of resources that we use, or water or energy, or whether that be the impact that we have in the communities where we operate, we both have synergies on that front.

I've seen a lot of brands change their portfolio to address the shifting consumer needs, around healthier consumption. What kind of diversification is PepsiCo in Bangladesh planning in that area?

In Bangladesh, we are uniquely positioned with a portfolio of brands that are both loved and trusted by consumers. The portfolio caters to varied choices - products like Pepsi, 7UP, Kurkure for celebratory and fun moments and products like 7up Lite, Diet Pepsi with no sugar to give more positive choices to consumers. We are also keen to build Quaker Oats to a much bigger brand over the next couple of years in Bangladesh. All this has been done to serve the consumer better and rapidly adapt to their changing requirements.

Thank you so much for the interview. If you want to say anything is outside of the question. You can

I would like to say that this is my first time in Bangladesh. And so, there's a lot for me to learn, obviously about the country and about the history and people of Bangladesh. I do believe that this country has tremendous potential to grow.

The country is growing well in the last ten years in terms. Consistently, GDP has been growing around 7 per cent, it has a young and eager population that is looks forward to contributing to the success of the country and there is immense potential. Hence, we're committed to continue to invest in not only the business, but also in the success of Bangladesh in terms of economic investment and skills transfer and training as well.