Wednesday, July 21, 2010
PepsiCo prepares to develop authentic tastes for 14 countries in southeastern Europe at its brand-new R&D center in Turkey, the regional headquarters for the company. Serbian, Romanian and Israeli developers will work at the center along with Turks to form a common definition of taste for the region, says Rob Hargrove, PepsiCo’s R&D chief for Europe
PepsiCo, a worldwide leader in the snacks, food and beverage business, has opened a regional research and development center in Turkey’s northwestern province of Kocaeli to develop “unique tastes” for 14 countries.
“Today we celebrate the public announcement of our long-time dream: a research and development center in Turkey for 14 strategically important affiliated national markets for PepsiCo,” said Alexei Mekonoshin, chairman of PepsiCo Southeastern Europe at a Tuesday press meeting at the new facility.
“Turkey is a big and strategically important market for PepsiCo. Turkey, which has enjoyed strong economic growth in the past 10 years, is not only a bridge connecting continents but also an important cross-section of the cuisines from the Mediterranean to the Middle East. You have a young and dynamic population and Turkish people can easily adapt to innovative products,” he said.
“Due to a young population, Turkey’s potential for fast growth and increased consumption within Eastern Europe enables us to position the country very high,” Mekonoshin told reporters.
“[The decision] to select Turkey as a regional headquarter of 14 southeastern European countries last year is good evidence of the importance PepsiCo attaches Turkey,” the chairman said.
As the center of the southeastern European region, Turkey is one of PepsiCo Europe’s five administrative centers, along with Britain, France, Spain and Russia.
“The center we are inaugurating will provide services not only to Turkey but also to countries like Greece, Cyprus, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Romania, Bulgaria and Israel,” he said.
Regional taste preferences
“PepsiCo had a very successful 2009, even though it was defined as a crisis year worldwide,” said Rob Hargrove, PepsiCo Europe Region R&D Chief in his speech at the press meeting.
“We see R&D as one of the most important elements contributing to sustainable growth,” he said.
“The reason for choosing Turkey as the site of the center is quite simple. Turkey is seen as a market of strategic importance by PepsiCo not only for its young population [with 36 percent below the age of 19] and fast food and beverage growth, but because it is a bridge between continents and cultures,” Hargrove said.
“At the PepsiCo Turkey R&D Center, our major focus will be optimizing our products according to regional taste preferences and increasing nutritional value,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
“We increased our research and development spending significantly,” he said, adding that the amount of the investment was to be kept confidential.
“With our 25 employees, mostly from Turkey, along with those from the U.K., Serbia, Romania and Israel, we will form a common definition of taste for southeastern Europe. We will determine the most preferred flavors in the region,” Hargrove said.
PepsiCo has already started looking for new strategies to develop healthier diets, said Hargrove. “A healthier future for all people and our planet means a more successful future for PepsiCo, this is our commitment,” he said.
According to a new road map designed and implemented in PepsiCo R&D centers, the company will increase the amount of healthy grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and low fat dairy products in all global products. Moreover, PepsiCo plans to reduce average sodium levels by 25 percent by 2015 and saturated fat levels by 15 percent by 2020.
“The amount of added sugar in key global beverage brands will be reduced by 25 percent by 2020,” Mekonoshin said.