You’ve got to hand it to Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo. She is trying to re-invent the junk food and beverage conglomerate by building an entire portfolio of “Good For You” Products. Problem is, that she is pushing the company forward when it needs to go backward. We’ll explain…
Here is an example. The company is now experimenting with a new product under the Tropicana brand called Tropolis – it’s an 80-calorie fruit puree, which comes in brightly colored pouches, and will be marketed to moms and kids.
“We see the emerging opportunity to ‘snackify’ beverages and ‘drinkify’ snacks as the next frontier in food and beverage convenience,” Ms. Nooyi said. Read more from the Wall Street Journal…
Perhaps a bold step forward in food processing, but as we explain, our childrens’ health mandates we take a step backward - get people to consume the unprocessed fruit, not juice and not a puree.
But unprocessed means that
- supply is based on seasonality.
- products need to taste really good in their original form. But current varieties are bred for shelf life and size, not flavor.
- it’s much harder to differentiate veggies or fruits, when they are simply commodities.
- there is no ability to mark up the price and make a hefty profit on commodities.
Processing allows manufacturers to
- maintain sales year round by creating products with almost infinite shelf life.
- use the lowest quality inputs by adding additives to improve the flavor
- build mega brands that rake in billions of dollars
- convince us we don’t need to work hard for food – no need to cook, no need to peel an orange, no need to chew.
If junk food companies truly have our health interest in mind, they need to be much more creative than evolving a juice into a puree.
- They need to forgo a few quarters of profit growth, and perhaps a few years.
- They need to stop drilling a hole in our heads promoting sugary drinks, salty snacks, and fatty burgers.
- They need to figure out how to become leaders in a brand new food system where there is a much bigger emphasis on quality commodity inputs, minimal processing, localized and short distribution cycles.
- They need to stop externalizing the true cost of junk food (food related disease and medical bills, subsidies for corn and soy)
We don’t need an evolution in junk food products. We need a revolution. One in which healthy food is cheaper to buy than junk food. One where the best selling snacks are fresh, perhaps local, fruits and veggies. One where financial rewards and incentives are awarded to companies that morph into something else.
As things appear now, the incumbent big brands won’t be igniting a food revolution. They are too comfortable. Their competition is other similar companies, not fresh fruit and produce farms. And we, the silent majority of consumers are mostly complacent and kept comfortably numb.
So buyer beware. You have been trained (through gazillions of ads, commercials, and press releases) to seek and easily find junk food. The high salt/fat/sugar content has trained your palate to want more of the same.
Here’s something for you to think about: How would you re-invent a major food brand if you were given the helm?