In 2017, Latin America represented 11% of PepsiCo's total US$63.5bn net revenues, with Mexico and Brazil generating a significant portion of these earnings. Mexico net revenues for 2017 were $3.6bn and Brazil net revenues US$1.4bn.
Alina Hernández Aguilar, corporate affairs director at PepsiCo Mexico, said Mexico was the “second most important market” for PepsiCo globally, hence the US$5m cash injection into the market in 2014 for innovation and brand consolidation, infrastructure, agriculture and community outreach.
Speaking to FoodNavigator-LATAM, Hernández said: “As a company, we are completely committed to growing alongside Mexico. This is a strategic market for PepsiCo because it has so much potential to expand.”
“...PepsiCo's net revenues depend on 42% of markets outside the United States. The main countries are Mexico, Canada, Russia, Brazil and the United Kingdom, which together make up 19% of revenues. This means that innovation in Mexico can be a growth driver for PepsiCo as a whole.”
Nutrition holds 'significant growth potential'
Hernández said expanding business in Mexico would rely on the “significant growth potential” of nutrition-conscious products, which for PepsiCo, placed importance on the Quaker brand.
“Consumers are becoming more aware of their eating habits and taking a more conscious approach on health. The Quaker brand is a key player in our nutrition portfolio; it is one of our strongest bets to keep growing in this market, so we are highly confident that we can tap into it,” she said.
Quaker – renowned for its oat-based breakfast cereals, bars and snacks – had seen plenty of R&D investment in the last few years at PepsiCo Mexico's Baking Category Innovation Center (BCIC) in the city of Apodaca.
Since its June 2014 inauguration, the center had developed a number of new Quaker products for the global market, including Quaker Morning Flats for the US, Quaker Good Start Cookies for Dubai and Quaker Oat Biscuit Bites for China.
Miguel Acosta, senior director of R&D for snacks LATAM North and cookies and crackers Americas at PepsiCo, told FoodNavigator-LATAM the center had been “very successful” with product development.
Better-for-you bakery and 'positive nutrition'
Initially established to focus on the better-for-you category, Acosta said it was PepsiCo's Quaker Cookies line that had driven most of the center's better-for-you proposals thus far.
“Quaker cookies around the world in their majority have been developed at the BCIC,” Acosta said. The center, he said, was also supporting developments for Mexico's cookie brand Gamesa and Brazil's biscuit brand Mabel. In 2017, 70% of the center's innovation focus was for Latin America.
“The baking category is very well regarded by our consumers and provides a wide range of possibilities to add or mix ingredients into the dough, delivering unique and functional experiences. For example, it is very easy to add fiber via whole grains and oats or add nutrition via fruits or nuts and seeds,” he said.
Hernández said this focus on “positive nutrition” was a priority across PepsiCo's entire brand portfolio, working to incorporate whole grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy, and proteins into a number of products.
“Our portfolio transformation is one of our big bets for the upcoming years. By this, we mean not only new launches but also the reconfiguration of recipes in order to reduce the levels of sodium, sugars and fats without changing flavor,” she said.
Sodium, for example, had also been reduced by nearly 24% across Pepsico Mexico's salty food category and cooking oils changed in several products to reduce saturated fat content.
Acosta said it was vital PepsiCo stayed “one step ahead” through its work at innovation centers like the BCIC so it could develop unique concepts and continue its leadership in the market.