PepsiCo CEO – ‘If all consumers exercised…obesity wouldn’t exist’

Folks, we didn’t make this up. Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s CEO, was recently interviewed by Fortune magazine. Substantial parts of the interview dealt with the mega corporation’s shift to healthier foods. To be more accurate, less-bad foods.

Currently, the largest food and beverage company in America receives $10 billion of its annual revenue, or 18% of its overall revenue, from what Nooyi likes to call “good-for-you” (read: healthier than average) products like Dole, Quaker Oats and Tazo teas. The goal? Up that figure to $30 billion by 2020.

Well, that’s interesting. Quaker Oats chewy granola bars with trans-fats are good for me? And Dole’s Peaches in heavy syrup?

Here’s what Mrs. Nooyi, a vegetarian, had to say about her industry and the world obesity problem:

If all consumers exercised, did what they had to do, the problem of obesity wouldn’t exist. But because society has changed so much, I think we can also be part of the solution by transforming our portfolio.

Get this, if we all did what we had to, we could eat Lay’s chips for breakfast and down it with a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew. Hitting the gym for an hour, we could then devour some Doritos for lunch together with a double cheeseburger.

If I look at our portfolio, I think you can classify them into three groups: “fun-for-you foods” like Pepsi, Doritos, Lays, and Mountain Dew, “better-for-you” products like Diet Pepsi, PepsiMax, Baked Lays, Sobi Life Water, Propel, all of these products, and “good-for-you” products like Quaker, Tropicana, Naked Juice, Gatorade.

There’s a place for balance in everyone’s portfolio. Our overall goal is to increase the number of great tasting, “better-for-you” products and “good-for-you” products, while making sure our “fun-for-you” products still have a place in consumers’ lives. Read more from Fortune…

While the progression makes sense in that each category is less bad than the previous, it simply is not true that Gatorade is good for anybody other than PepsiCo. Nor are fruit juices and drinks, whose sugar content is comparable to Pepsi. Doctors and Dietitians today do not recommend juice, rather eating a whole fruit, in order to gain all its benefits, especially the fiber.

And the amount of advertising dollars spent to get kids hooked on sugary soft drinks is much more aggressive than the benign making sure our “fun-for-you” products still have a place in consumers’ lives.

But how can you blame Indra Nooyi. Her first and foremost responsibility is to here shareholders. Consumers and environment are secondary, in each and every business decision. Yes, she is gearing her company to “performance with purpose”, and being a globally responsible corporation. With $100B in annual revenue, there is no doubt many of PepsiCo’s decisions have profound impact on the planet and on billions of people. So why not be really creative?

Imagine if the company really went all out for nutrition and health, dumping all the silly soft drinks and using its logistical centers and distribution capability to deliver local farm fresh produce to neighborhoods across the country. Imagine that instead of comping up with a new salt granule to make potato chips less salty, they would invent 10 new products from other veggies like broccoli and kale. That would be a true revolution.

Bottom line: In a sense, PepsiCo’s current moves leave consumers worse off now than in the past. We once knew better than to eat junk food. Now they’re telling us they’ve improved it and it’s healthy for us.

Buyer beware.

What to do at the supermarket:

Skip the beverage aisles completely. Nothing there for you. Tap water is better for you and the environment. The money saved ($500 for a family of four annually) can go to buying fresh fruits and vegetables.

And limit the snacks you buy to a handful at a time. Snacking does not have to be a bag of chips each time. A banana can also be a snack.

  • GrowingRaw

    Hey, you even sound a bit cranky about this one! (Don’t blame you.)

    I think this relates to your previous post about the removal of toys as lures for kids to eat unhealthy take-away meals – this idea that there is such thing as healthy junk food is just another lure, but this time for adults.

  • Lea G

    Gatorade a good for you food? They’re joking right? The first or second ingredient is HFCS! It’s makes me mad because it feels like these multibillion dollar food industries are trying to trick consumers. As usual, buyer beware, I guess it’s up to us!

  • Carrie (Love Healthy Living)

    Sickening. It’s one thing for a company CEO to be honest and say he or she has to make money for shareholders, it’s another thing to play dumb about how poisonous the products are.

  • Sheila Ann

    What a dumb-@ss!!!!!! Thanks Monica for all you do. I look so forward to reading you!!

  • Christina @ Spoonfed

    Absolutely. Freaking. Ridiculous. The sad thing is that less informed consumers will eat this up (figuratively and literally). Even more reason to keep pushing for systemic change.

  • Dr. Susan Rubin

    “fun for you”?? I see this word “fun” on the back of the Doritoes trucks.
    What is so darn fun about being sick? Is it fun to be overweight or obese?

    “better for you”? yeah right. my mom thought light cigarettes were “better” for her. alot of good that did!

    “good for you”? i don’t believe for a minute that gatorade or tropicana are good at all. I’d put them on my hazardous list. They are GREAT for dentists who benefit by having more teeth to drill…..

    the only product that Pepsi makes that is somewhat useful is their Quaker Old Fashioned Rolled Oats. You can buy generic rolled oats for less in the bulk aisle.

    Pepsi’s products for the most part are not good for people or for the planet. And the nerve of that CEO to imply that we’re fat because we don’t exercise.

    What to do at the supermarket? Don’t waste your money or your health on Pepsi products!

  • Monica

    I thought the main purpose of food was to get energy and necessary nutrients, but i guess it can also be a hobby for those that are bored…

    No wonder so many people are obese, they eat for “fun”. How about exercising for fun instead?

  • kc

    Hey, we could just ban GMO corn and then Pepsico would shut down altogether (along with every other major food corporation in America). Seriously, their “food” products are mostly GMO corn and very little else. Every single ingredient in Pepsi cola is corn-derived except for the water. Most people think that HFCS is just another sugar but that is so much wishful thinking. Corn syrup not only sweetens the pseudo-food product, but it also causes insatiability and fatigue (corn is an endocryne disruptor). Combine those two symptoms long enough and you have obesity. Start messing with your endocryne system while you are still a developing child and you have a lifetime of obesity and health problems ahead. If every parent would realize that serving that poison to their children is simply a way to guarantee their child an agonizing death after a short but miserable life, Pepsico would go out of business tomorrow which is why they spend all that money on “misleading” advertising campaigns.