PepsiCo Shares Its Sustainability Game Plan at NRF Show

In keynote, PFNA CEO discusses how CPG leader works with all members of value chain in "the ultimate team sport”
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
Bridget Headshot
PFNA CEO Steven Williams NRF Main Image
PepsiCo Foods North America CEO Steven Williams appears on multiple screens at the Javits Center's SAP Theatre while taking part in a keynote session during NRF ’24: Retail’s Big Show.

When it comes to sustainability, PepsiCo is ahead of the curve. Fully embracing the concept of a more planet-friendly future, the Purchase, N.Y.-based CPG powerhouse, which boasts one of the biggest footprints in the food business, has committed reaching some ambitious green goals through its Pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) program, which vows to “create more smiles with every bite.”

To talk about the ways that PepsiCo is working towards greater sustainability across its entire value chain, PepsiCo Foods North America CEO Steven Williams sat down for a 30-minute keynote session with Michael Jeschke, principal at Deloitte Touche, in the SAP Theatre at the Javits Center on the first day of NRF ’24: Retail’s Big Show, taking place in New York City, Jan. 14-16.

Williams stressed the importance of “deep partnerships” with retailers and farmers in attaining such objectives as producing net-zero scope 1, 2 and three emissions by 2040, an endeavor that he readily admitted was “on the other side of hard.” To help distribute the load of this “significant group effort” more evenly, PepsiCo last year founded the Partners for Tomorrow initiative to share best practices in sustainability among upstream and downstream value chain members. 

Williams also noted the company’s stellar progress in having sustainable plant and office sites across the United States and Canada, which he noted was “a big first step.” One location that he flagged for special attention was PepsiCo’s “True North” site in Modesto, Calif., which has brought emissions down by a staggering 90% through a futuristic design that Williams likened to “Star Wars.” Additionally, PepsiCo has transformed water use with biomass technology at such places as its Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., facility.

Noting the importance of farmers to PepsiCo’s business – “These products are born in the field” – and how farmers would the bear the brunt of climate change, which poses a threat to their livelihood, Williams wrapped up the talk a first-of-its-kind collaboration among the USDA, PepsiCo and Walmart to invest $120 million to bring regenerative agricultural practices to 2 million-plus acres of farmland in North America. The undertaking is also expected to deliver about 4 million metric tons of greenhouse-gas emission reductions and removals by 2030.

This groundbreaking partnership served as the perfect illustration of Williams’ earlier assertion that “sustainability is the ultimate team sport.” With innovation as the game plan, PepsiCo and its partners look set to win.

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