by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: PepsiCo

Sep 14 2022

PepsiCo’ push into regenerative agriculture: real or greenwashing?

Thanks to Hugh Joseph for sending this piece on PepsiCo’s commitment to regenerative agriculture in its supply chains: From regenerative ag to reformulation: A deep-dive into how PepsiCo is ‘reimagining the way food is grown, made and enjoyed’

When PepsiCo launched Pep+ in October 2021, the company said it wanted to ‘fundamentally change’ how it does business for the betterment of people and planet​. From ingredient sourcing and production to supporting consumers make choices that are ‘better for themselves and the planet’, Pep+ outlined an ambitious agenda of business transformation.  The company wants to:

  •  Spur transition to regenerative practices across land that is equivalent to its entire agricultural footprint, approximately seven million acres.
  • Reduce reliance on chemical inputs (but does not rule out their use).
  • Secure the future of farming communities and farmer incomes.
  • Support farmers by helping them with high fuel and fertilizer costs.
  • Support rural communities – and female farmers in particular.
  • Transition towards more than 70% of the company’s global electricity needs in direct operations are met by renewables.
  • Reach net zero emissions by 2040.
  • Improved operational water-use efficiency by 18% in high water-risk areas.
  • Use 100% rPET by the end of this year, contributing to 87% of PepsiCo-owned drinks portfolio in the European Union being made using 100% recycled or renewable plastic.
  • Eliminate virgin fossil-based plastic in all crisp and chip bags..

And then there are Pepsi’s nutrition objectives [recall: Pepsi makes snack brands like Walkers and Dorito alongside its line-up of fizzy drinks].

Use more chickpeas, plant-based proteins and wholegrains.

Expand nuts and seeds category.

In Europe, cut added sugars in its soft drinks by 50% .

Improve the nutritional quality of snack products.

My questions:

  • Is this real or greenwashing and healthwashing?
  • Who is holding Pepsi accountable for achieving these objectives?

The larger question is whether Pepsi’s portfolio of snack foods and sugary drinks can ever be sustainable?

In 2011, I was quoted in a New Yorker article about Pepsi’s health initiatives.

As part of PepsiCo’s commitment to being “the good company,” the corporation wants to play a leading role in public-health issues, and particularly in the battle against obesity. Some people think this is ludicrous. Marion Nestle, the author of “Food Politics” and a professor of food studies at N.Y.U., told me, “The best thing Pepsi could do for worldwide obesity would be to go out of business.”

I probably wouldn’t use the word ludicrous (and I’m not sure I did then), but the effort was certainly unrealistic.

Like all publicly traded corporations, PepsiCo is heavily constrained by shareholder profit objectives.

A decade ago, its shareholders objected to a focus on public health when sales of Pepsi declined.

Has anything changed since then?

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Coming soon!  My memoir, October 4.

For 30% off, go to www.ucpress.edu/9780520384156.  Use code 21W2240 at checkout.

 

Apr 11 2022

Industry-funded study of the week: oats (another rare exception)

A reader in Australia, Anthony Power, sent me this one, which he noticed discussed in an article in the Australian The Conversation.

This one is not obviously funder takes all.  Indeed, it might need to be categorized as a rare example of an industry-funded study with results unfavorable to the sponsor’s interests.

The study: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials on the Effects of Oats and Oat Processing on Postprandial Blood Glucose and Insulin ResponsesKathy Musa-VelosoDaniel NooriCarolina Venditti Theresa Poon 1Jodee Johnson 2Laura S Harkness 2Marianne O’Shea 2YiFang Chu 2  J Nutr.  2021 Feb 1;151(2):341-351.  doi: 10.1093/jn/nxaa349.

Objectives: The study objective was to determine the effects of differently processed oats on the postprandial blood glucose and insulin responses relative to refined grains.

Conclusions: A disruption in the structural integrity of the oat kernel is likely associated with a loss in the glycemic benefits of oats.

Funding: The systematic review and meta-analysis, as well as the writing of the manuscript, were funded by PepsiCo, Inc.

Conflicts of interest: Author disclosures: KM-V, DN, CV, and TP are employees of Intertek Health   ciences Inc., which has provided consulting services to PepsiCo, Inc. JJ, MO, and YC are employees of PepsiCo, Inc., which manufactures oatmeal products under the brand name Quaker Oats and which funded this systematic review and meta-analysis. LSH is a former employee of PepsiCo, Inc. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of Intertek Health Sciences Inc. or PepsiCo, Inc.

Comment: Oats are good sources of soluble fiber which in some studies helps lower blood cholesterol levels.  PepsiCo owns Quaker Oats, which makes oatmeals of varying degree of integrity.  The least processed ones, according to this review, do the best job.  This means that quick oats have less of a beneficial effect than the longer-to-cook less processed varieties.  As the paper puts it: “The postprandial glycemic and insulin responses
with thin/instant/quick oats were not significantly different from those elicited by the refined grain control.”

PepsiCo currently extols the health benefits of oatmeal on its website, without making a distinction between the Instant and Need-to-be-Cooked-Longer varieties.  Will it change its website in response to this study?  We will see in due course.

Oct 11 2021

Industry-funded study of the week: artificially-sweetened sodas and calorie intake

The study: Effects of Unsweetened Preloads and Preloads Sweetened with Caloric or Low-/No-Calorie Sweeteners on Subsequent Energy Intakes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Human Intervention Studies.  Han Youl Lee, Maia Jack, Theresa Poon, Daniel Noori, Carolina Venditti, Samer Hamamji, Kathy Musa-Veloso.  Advances in Nutrition, Volume 12, Issue 4, July 2021, Pages 1481–1499.

Methods: Review and meta-analysis of previously published studies.

Conclusions: Unsweetened or LNCS-sweetened preloads appear to have similar effects on intakes when compared with one another or with CS-sweetened preloads. These findings suggest that LNCS-sweetened foods and beverages are viable alternatives to CS-sweetened foods and beverages to manage short-term energy intake.

Funder: “The American Beverage Association provided funding for the work presented herein.”

Author disclosures: MJ is a paid employee of the American Beverage Association. Intertek Health Sciences, Inc.(HYL, TP, DN, CV, SH, KMV), works for the American Beverage Association as paid scientific and regulatory consultants.”

Comment: The great puzzle about artificial sweeteners is that they are not strongly associated with reduced calorie intake in most studies, perhaps because sweet tastes encourage people to eat more calories.  This industry-funded study is designed to counter that idea.  It concludes that low- or no-calorie sweeteners have no special effect on calorie intake.  The American Beverage Association represents soft drink companies, predominantly Coke and Pepsi, most of them manufacturing drinks sweetened with sugars or high-fructose corn syrup (with calories) or chemical sweeteners (no or low-calorie).  These companies are happy to have you buy either kind, and they don’t want you worrying about all the things you’ve heard about artificial sweeteners.

The Association’s rules for research are here.   But it is unlikely to fund proposals for research that might come up with inconvenient conclusions.

Reference: For a summary of research on the “funding effect”—the observations that research sponsored by food companies almost invariably produces results favorable to the sponsor’s interests and that recipients of industry funding typically did not intend to be influenced and do not recognize the influence—see my book, Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat.

Apr 5 2021

Industry-funded study of the week: Hummus this time

Dietary Patterns and Nutritional Status in Relation to Consumption of Chickpeas and Hummus in the U.S. Population.  by  Cara L. Frankenfeld and Taylor C. Wallace.   Appl. Sci. 202010(20), 7341; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10207341

Conclusion: ” Adults who consumed chickpeas and hummus were 48% and 62% less likely to have metabolic syndrome, respectively. Consuming chickpeas or hummus may be a practical means of improving diet quality and nutritional status. ”

Funding:  This research was funded by an investigator-initiated, unrestricted educational grant from Sabra Dipping Co., LLC.

Conflicts of Interest: T.C.W. has received prior research support from Sabra Dipping Co., LLC. C.L.F. declares no conflict of interest. The sponsor had no role in the study design; the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; the writing of the manuscript; or the decision where to submit the paper for publication.

Comment: That’s what they all say about the sponsor’s role, despite substantial evidence to the contrary (in many other cases).  Sabra is owned by PepsiCo.

Hat tip: To Daniel Bowmn Simon for sending me this one.

Feb 22 2021

Industry-funded study of the week: a rare exception to the rule?

As a general rule, industry-funded studies produce results favorable to the sponsor’s interests.  But what have we here?

The study: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials on the Effects of Oats and Oat Processing on Postprandial Blood Glucose and Insulin Responses.  Kathy Musa-Veloso, Daniel Noori, Carolina Venditti, Theresa Poon, Jodee Johnson, Laura S Harkness, Marianne O’Shea, YiFang Chu.  The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 151, Issue 2, February 2021, Pages 341–351.

Results: the consumption of thick—but not thin—oat flakes was associated with significant reductions in postprandial blood glucose and insulin responses.

Conclusion: “Relative to a refined grain control food with the same amount of available carbohydrate, the postprandial glycemic and insulin responses elicited by intact oat kernels and thick oats were significantly reduced. The postprandial glycemic and insulin responses with thin/instant/quick oats were not significantly different from those elicited by the refined grain control.”

Funding: The systematic review and meta-analysis, as well as the writing of the manuscript, were funded by PepsiCo, Inc.

Author disclosures: “KM-V, DN, CV, and TP are employees of Intertek Health Sciences Inc., which has provided consulting services to PepsiCo, Inc. JJ, MO, and YC are employees of PepsiCo, Inc., which manufactures oatmeal products under the brand name Quaker Oats and which funded this systematic review and meta-analysis. LSH is a former employee of PepsiCo, Inc.  The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of Intertek Health Sciences Inc. or PepsiCo, Inc.”

Comment:  This is a PepsiCo study paid for by the company and conducted by employees or contractors.  PepsiCo owns Quaker Oats instant oatmeal.  In the late 1980s, oat bran was a craze.  Everyone I knew was sprinkling oat bran on everything they ate as a means to reduce their blood cholesterol levels.  Even then, there were real questions about whether oats had any special effects on blood cholesterol levels.   But the idea has persisted.  This study demonstrates that oats might have metabolic benefits, but only if they are thick, whole-grain, and minimally processed.  Instant oatmeal is not in that category.  I wonder what the company’s reaction is to this study, whether it intends to fund more like it, and whether it will us thicker oats in its Quaker products.

 

Feb 18 2021

Keeping up with plant-based meat alternatives

I’ve been trying to keep up with the news on plant-based meat alternatives.   This isn’t easy.  There’s a lot going on.

Plant-based meat politics

Plant-based science news

Plant-based business news

Comment

This is a big industry with many questions about quality, degree of processing, and effects on the environment still to be settled.  And these are just the plant-based products.  Next week, I’ll post a collection of articles on the cell-based meat alternatives.  These are not yet on the market (except in Singapore) but also look like big business.  Stay tuned.

Dec 21 2020

Food marketing ploy of the week: PepsiCo

My colleague, former doctoral student, and frequent correspondent, Dr. Lisa Young, sent me this choice item:

Now why would PepsiCo be interested in putting money into a conference on fermented foods?

Lisa has the answer to that one too: the company just bought a company that makes fermented beverages.

PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE: PEP) announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire KeVita, a leading North American creator of fermented probiotic and kombucha beverages. The transaction will expand PepsiCo’s health and wellness offerings in the premium chilled beverage space.

I’ll bet speakers at that conference talked a lot about the purported health benefits of drinks like these.  And I’ll also be willing to bet that they did not talk about studies that show no benefit.

Just a wild guess.

Dec 17 2020

Soft drink marketing in the Coronavirus era

A few more items about what soft drink companies are up to these days.

1.  Pepsi is releasing spa kits to ease your home-bound stress (this one was sent to me by Nancy Fink, who is keeping track of this sort of thing for the Center for Science in the Public Interest).

The kits include an exfoliating cola-scented Pepsi sugar scrub, a Pepsi Blue face mask and a Pepsi cola-scented bath bomb, according to the company’s email. With its latest branded merchandise, Pepsi can tap into trends around self-care that have emerged during a chaotic year.

What do you have to do to get one?  You have to help market Pepsi, of course

The company launched a sweepstakes on Wednesday to let consumers enter for a chance to win a limited edition Pepsi Spa Kit. To participate, consumers must tweet #PepsiSpa and #Sweepstakes and tag one of their friends, the company said.

2.  Coca-Cola sought to shift blame for obesity by funding public health conferences, study reports

The Coca-Cola Company worked with its sponsored researchers on topics to present at major international public health conferences in order to shift blame for rising obesity and diet related diseases away from its products onto physical activity and individual choice, according to a new report.

Academics in Australia and the US worked with US Right to Know, which lobbies for transparency in the food industry, to obtain and analyse emails between Coke and public health figures about events run by the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH).

They analysed 36 931 pages of documents to identify exchanges referencing Coke’s sponsorship of the International Congresses on Physical Activity and Public Health (ICPAPH) held in Sydney in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2014 [The study is here].

3.  Coke and Pepsi join Nestlé (no relation) as “Plastic Polluters of the Year

This is the third year in a row they have won this title from Break Free From Plastic. which demands corporate accountability for plastic pollution.  It’s always good to keep this in mind, along with soda companies opposition to bottle recycling laws.