Michael Lindsey (L), the vice president of Nutrition Category & Commercialization at PepsiCo GCR, signs a cooperation agreement with a representative from the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation. [Courtesy of PepsiCo]
PepsiCo Greater China Region (PepsiCo GCR) officially launched the "PepsiCo Nutrition In Action" program in China Thursday, in collaboration with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) and Chinese Nutrition Society (CNS).As part of the program, PepsiCo will donate funds and materials totaling 1 million yuan (U.S.$156,300) to CFPA to provide healthy meals and nutrition education to school children in poor areas of Yunnan Province. The initiative comes as part of an effort to improve nutrition and nutritional awareness among youngsters in poor rural areas of China.
In attendance at the launch ceremony were Jiang Shaogao, the vice president of CFPA, Qin Wei, the assistant secretary-general of CFPA, Dr Du Songming, the vice executive director of CNS, Michael Lindsey, the vice president of Nutrition Category & Commercialization at PepsiCo GCR, and Cathy Tai, the vice president of Corporate Affairs at PepsiCo GCR.
According to recent surveys, remarkable disparities in childhood nutrition exist between urban and rural areas as well as across different regions in China. In poor rural areas, for example, the rate of underweight and malnourished children is three-to-four times that of urban areas, and twice that of average-income rural areas. In 2010, 20 percent of children in impoverished rural areas under the age of five were found to have stunted growth. "Left-behind" children, or children whose parents are migrant workers living in other locations, experience problems with malnutrition at a rate 1.5 times that of other children. Zhaotong is among the most impoverished regions in Yunnan Province.
As one of the world's largest food and beverage companies, PepsiCo was uniquely positioned to launch this program, which offers a menu designed under the supervision of experts that integrates nutrient- and fiber-rich Quaker products with eggs purchased through the donation fund. The program will offer a delicious breakfast to nearly 1,700 rural students in Zhaotong's Zhaoyang district for one year, offering a nutritional intervention to such problems as insufficient protein and fiber intake. The program will also invite CNS to educate teachers and students in the project areas about the science of nutrition as it relates to childhood development.
At the event, Lindsey commented, "Since its entry into the Chinese market in 2004, PepsiCo's Quaker oats brand has become indispensable to hundreds of millions of households. PepsiCo attaches great importance to nutrition and nutritional knowledge, and Quaker's advocacy related to health and nutrition dovetails perfectly with CFPA's programs. We are happy to cooperate with CFPA and CNS to help improve the health of children in impoverished areas of China."
In a joint interview after the launch ceremony, Lindsey told the Global Times that PepsiCo has invested heavily in nutritious products in recent years. "We are expanding the Quaker brand into new categories and products like dairy, while we continue to invest in juices, water and so on. We have also formed an internal group dedicated to nutrition and gathered our nutrition-related resources together so that we can separate ourselves a bit from the snack and beverage business and focus on nutrition."
Lindsey also said that although the Chinese beverage market is currently very competitive, PepsiCo has seen continuous growth among premium and healthy products in the Chinese market. "So we are investing heavily in that area. We just opened a Quaker plant in Beijing in October of this year, and we have invested in a new R&D center, our largest one outside the US, in Shanghai. We also just formed a new nutrition team, which is my organization, that's focused on growing our premium and nutritious products in China."
Jiang added that more than 795 million people around the world suffer from insufficient food supplies and 70.17 million people in rural China still live in poverty, including one-fifth of the nation's children. Jiang went on to say that an investment in childhood nutrition is an investment in the future, as it's an effective way to prevent the generational transmission of poverty.
Since it was launched in 2008, CFPA's "Nutritious Meals" program has been working to meet the basic dietary requirements of students in poor areas, while using its influence to attract support from policymakers and companies to implement nutrition education. As part of the central government's "Targeted Measures In Poverty Alleviation" campaign, CFPA will join with PepsiCo to provide nutritional supplements, enhance health awareness and effectively solve the problem of malnutrition among students in Zhaotong, Yunnan Province.
President of CNS Yang Yuexin commented, "The Chinese government has recently issued a number of policies to improve children's nutrition in poor areas, achieving positive results by enlisting the help of people from all walks of life. However despite this major investment, a nutritional disparity remains among children in different regions due to unbalanced economic development. At present, childhood malnutrition remains a problem in China, especially in impoverished areas. Through this cooperation with PepsiCo and CFPA, CNS will carry out a series of trainings in the project areas to help improve nutritional awareness."
PepsiCo was among the first US-based companies to enter China. Over the past 30-plus years, PepsiCo has remained committed to serving the community and supporting public welfare projects in China, including its longstanding "Water Cellar for Mothers" program, the Tsinghua University leadership and responsible corporation training program, educational assistance for schools near PepsiCo potato farms, and emergency relief efforts during natural disasters. As of November, the total public welfare donations made by PepsiCo Foundation, PepsiCo GCR and PepsiCo associates here in China have exceeded 137 million yuan.
(Source: Global Times)