Derek Yach was recently one of the plenary speakers at the recent Grantmakers In Health Annual Meeting in Baltimore. Grantmakers In Health (GIH) is an organization dedicated to helping foundations and corporate giving programs improve the health of all people.
Derek spoke about Performance with Purpose, the company’s belief that what’s right for people and our planet leads a more successful future for PepsiCo. He noted that we have clear goals that address public health, ”such as aims to reduce salt, sugar, and saturated fats in products, and, at the same time, increase the proportion of healthier products in our portfolio.”
He stressed that being guided by Performance with Purpose is important because societal needs are “deeply embedded, funded, and executed within the daily operations of [a] company [and are] linked to the way executives are compensated and the way companies report on their progress.” However, trade-offs still exist that challenge our teams to innovate healthy solutions for people and the planet. For example, manufacturing products in smaller portions requires more packaging, potentially increasing trash that ends up in landfills. And ironically, the company also faces critics from the investment community, who question the “push into healthier foods.” We are challenged to innovate packaging that is better for the environment and show investors the financial strength of a diverse portfolio.
Derek closed with three ways that he sees foundations and the public sector joining with PepsiCo to reach common goals:
- Have “more incentives and fewer mandates.” For example, foundations could support policy, analytic, and advocacy work that highlights “the power of incentives to align public and corporate actions toward common goals.”
- Form “smarter partnerships with measurable public health goals.” Attempting to solve global problems alone is not effective and partnerships make achieving goals easier. As an example, he mentioned the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (a group including food companies, restaurants, and others), urging foundations that fund obesity prevention to consider participating in the effort to reduce child obesity.
- Use “common advocacy for shared positions.” For example, the point that “prevention works and is economically sensible” can sometimes be drowned out by focus on drugs for treating disease. Advocacy campaigns run by academics and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and funded by foundations and others, have a better chance of having a “sustained public health impact” than those led by corporations or governments.
PepsiCo has a strong history of innovative partnerships to improve nutrition, health and the environment. Solving current and future challenges requires focusing on how we can work together and form partnerships across sectors, contributing unique expertise to innovative solutions.
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