PepsiCo’s CEO is tired of people blaming her for the health consequences of sugary soda beverages.
“Your ancestors invented soda, and then it was exported to the rest of the world,” Indra Nooyi said in a conversation with Andrew Ross Sorkin on Thursday at The New York Times’ DealBook conference. “Guess what? I’m here, as an immigrant, making it healthier.”
Nooyi, who was born in Madras (now Chennai), India, went on to defend soda as a “great product.” PepsiCo, she said, has been working to cut the amount of sugar in products without alienating customers.
“If this is a public health issue, let’s talk about it holistically,” Nooyi said, arguing that soda taxes do little to improve American health.
Nooyi also mentioned she received advice from an unlikely source to cut sugar from Pepsi products. Steve Jobs, she said, told her that she needed to immediately cut sugar from Pepsi products — advice she found “unrealistic.”
In recent years, PepsiCo has made a major effort to cut sugar from beverages and grow business outside of the soda industry.
In October, PepsiCo announced that by 2025, two thirds of its drinks will have 100 calories or fewer from added sugar, per 12 oz serving. Currently, these types of sugary beverages make up roughly 40% of PepsiCo’s drinks.
Nooyi has said PepsiCo is “future-proofing” its portfolio by increasing its emphasis on products aimed at nutritionally-savvy customers.
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