Modi-Nooyi Meet Won’t be Just About Colas
When PM hosts Pepsi chief, who is also member of US president’s policy forum, business ties could be a key issue
New Delhi: When Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets the Indian-born chief executive of PepsiCo next month, the meeting agenda would be full: Business ties, the currency swap, and healthier drinks would likely feature in the talks when Indra Nooyi visits South Block early March. Nooyi, the sole Indian-American in President Donald Trump’s policy forum, is scheduled to visit India in the first week of March as part of business reviews. The policy forum is assisting the US government in implementing the new president’s economic agenda that critics say would lead to increased protectionism and stiffer barriers to trade. Besides global issues, the chief executive of Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo would have several discussion points built around her company’s business and the indust- ry she represents.
Last week, Nooyi described the currency-swap as a massive change as 80% of the currency was withdrawn from circulation, temporarily affecting purchasing power in a country that had hitherto used cash in 98% of its consumer transactions. “Our hope is that by the time Q2 rolls in, we would be through the bulk of the demonetisation challenges. The new currency and the digital currency will be back in circulation and we’ll be back to retail activity coming back to normal,” Nooyi told analysts on a post-earnings conference call.
Nooyi had also told analysts that her company was also making “significant progress in transforming its portfolio,” illustrating the industry’s shift to less-sugary drinks. In an ambitious announcement last year, Nooyi had said PepsiCo was making sweeping changes to its portfolio to reduce sugar in carbonated drinks and juices across countries by 2025.
Three years ago, India’s food processing ministry had suggested to Nooyi during one of her visits that her company reduce the sugar content in its beverages sold here.
Last year, PepsiCo kicked off its sugar reduction exercise with 7Up, cutting the sugar content 30% and replacing it with plantbased sweetener stevia. This was the first carbonated beverage in the country to contain natural sweetener instead of sugar. Apart from the Chennaiborn Nooyi, other leaders from the corporate sector to join Trump’s strategic and policy forum include cab aggregator Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and energy storage, solar panel and auto maker Tesla chairman Elon Musk.
Besides global issues, Nooyi would have several discussion points built around her company’s business and the industry she represents