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

The Economic Times - - Brands & Companies - Ratna.Bhushan@ times­group.com

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

VARANI SAHU

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