Bayer & PepsiCo | The Best Snack Starts in the Field
There is not a more South American tuber than potato. It was cultivated more than 7 thousand years ago by the Incas and originated in the current territory of Bolivia and Peru. Actually, what we know today as "potato" (Solanum tuberosum) contains only a fragment of the genetic diversity of its ancestral varieties – the fact is that it conquered the world and became a star on many menus in most every country.
This ingredient also inspires delicious product lines from PepsiCo, one of the leading global food and beverage companies. The Company knows that success highly depends on what comes from the field, so it is there that we turn our eyes to secure the best raw material for our snacks.
More than 300 million tons of potatoes are harvested every year in the world. Of this some 3.5 million tons come from Brazil, which represents around US$ 1.6 billion, according to a study by the consultancy Markestrat, in partnership with the Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil (CNA).
Due to the high demand of potatoes for industrial use in Brazil, PepsiCo has been developing since 2009 the Agro Batata program, in partnership with Bayer. The main focus of this joint effort is to invest in training activities for farmers to help them meet the requirements and goals we established with regard to product quality, while helping them achieve economic, environmental and social sustainability. Why do we invest in trainings? Well…, among other things, because we understand the vital role farmers play with regards to food security, it is also critical to our business success, and the consumer is increasingly demanding both quality products and environmental responsibility.
PepsiCo has annual contracts with around 40 Brazilian potato producers (50% of them are delivering product solely to the company). These farmers are mostly located in the states of Minas Gerais, Paraná, São Paulo and Goiás and use exclusively varieties that produce potatoes that weight on average approximately 140 grams and are 7 centimeters in diameter; in addition they have high content of solids (dry matter), which contributes to obtain crispy chips consumers enjoy so much. Numerous variables and risks (such as pests, diseases and weather) can affect the potato before the snack reaches the hands of the consumers. The combined knowledge of PepsiCo and Bayer about this vegetable helps the producer to ensure the full potential of the potato.
The work of Agro Batata includes training in agricultural management and food safety, as well as support around the mechanization and process automation. Since program started in Brazil, the partner farmers have already doubled productivity, obtaining potatoes with better quality and achieving a more rational use of both natural resources and agricultural inputs.
The Agro Batata program is part of a larger global initiative by PepsiCo, namely the Sustainable Farming Program (SFP), which has now been implemented in 40 countries and reaches more than 15,000 farmers - around 100 of these farmers are in Brazil.
By 2020, our goal is that 100% of the agricultural raw materials we use meet the requirements set by the SFP. The program not only focuses on potatoes, but other important crops we use in our products, such as corn, coconut and oats.
The partnership between Bayer and PepsiCo shows that it is possible to have a more intelligent and sustainable agriculture through a win-win relationship that integrates the business vision with the environmental and social benefits which is our legacy to the future generations.