As a company with over one billion products consumed daily, PepsiCo has a responsibility to help transform food systems to make them more beneficial for people and the planet, says PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta. That transformation starts with
two core groups: farmers and consumers. “Those are the two big entities that will really drive the full ecosystem change,” says Laguarta.
As co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Food Systems Initiative Stewardship Board, Laguarta participated in the World Economic Forum’s virtual Davos Agenda Week on Jan. 27. Along with global leaders in agricultural policy, Laguarta presented
his insights on creative actions that can improve farmers’ livelihoods and restore the planet.
Here are the three innovative ideas that Laguarta says could help make food systems more sustainable:
Educational farms that illustrate sustainability practices bring vital information directly to local growers. “The concept of demonstration farms is proving to be very powerful,” Laguarta says. “There's a need to make the farmer aware
of the new techniques and new ways of doing things.” PepsiCo has seen the impact with hundreds of demonstration farms in countries including India, Brazil and Thailand, where farmers have gained firsthand training in areas such as irrigation
and soil health.
Collaboration among experts in the agriculture and technology industries can help create sustainable solutions for farmers. “There's not enough going into agri-tech,” Laguarta suggests, “and I think we can play a role.” Laguarta
explains that it is up to large companies and the public sector “to build innovation hubs to bring technology and innovation closer to the farmer.”
Recently, PepsiCo partnered with WEF, the Dutch Government and others to support the rollout of Food Innovation Hubs such as the one PepsiCo is building in Colombia. Program initiatives include testing waste-reduction methods and providing access to digital
tools to improve performance in the field.
“There is very little knowledge on the environmental footprint of products,” Laguarta explains. Providing information on the sourcing, ingredients and supply chain will educate consumers and drive demand for sustainable choices. He says the
key is to “move consumers through awareness and through product innovation.” With that insight, there will be a larger market for products that are better for the planet. Says Laguarta, “I'm very optimistic about what we can do.”
Watch the panel for more of Laguarta’s insights on transforming food systems.