PepsiCo Outreach to Suppliers
Earlier this week I attended PepsiCo’s Supplier Outreach Sustainability Summit at their beautiful New York campus. In addition to hearing about PepsiCo’s approach to sustainability, much of the overall event was given over to not-for-profit organizations such as Carbon Disclosure Project, EPA and Rainforest Alliance to present their wares to the audience. I presented a breakout session on using ICT technologies to reduce carbon footprint.
I was impressed with the event:
· Nearly 100 of their most significant suppliers attended.
· Senior level executives from PepsiCo, their Chief Procurement Officer and VP of Procurement Operations, gave substantive and compelling sustainability presentations, addressing the hurdles as well as the easy parts of implementing sustainability initiatives.
· PepsiCo described how they have addressed the intersection between their core business and sustainability issues. In addition to energy and water conservation targets, their objectives include rebalancing their product profile to reflect a much higher proportion of nutritional and healthful products (I think it was 50%) and reformulating many of their other products for improved nutritional profile. These are real core business initiatives.
· And this was all underpinned with a comprehensive approach from PepsiCo on how they are going to engage with their suppliers on improving sustainability. I even met a PepsiCo employee, a professional environmental operations engineer, whose job is to work with their suppliers as a free consultancy resource to help the suppliers improve the environmental sustainability of their manufacturing processes.
Of course, for a vendor this adds yet another item to the requirements that have to be met to serve PepsiCo. Moreover, PepsiCo is a major customer for many companies – so the need to follow their lead is not insignificant. This is the sort of leadership role that is required from large corporations. As long as this supplier outreach dimension of their sustainability strategy is consistent with the other dimensions of their strategy and as long as it doesn’t compromise equally important, but perhaps different sustainability objectives of their vendors, I welcome it.