PepsiCo Case Study - Carbon & Water

Over the last decade, PepsiCo has committed to its principle of 'Performance with Purpose'; a set of goals which helps deliver sustainable long-term growth.

Launched in 2010, ’50 in 5’ is one example of how PepsiCo has been working with growers to make food systems more sustainable. The aim was to cut carbon and water used to grow potatoes for Walkers crisps in water-stressed areas by 50 percent. The programme was a success and, with PepsiCo being one of the biggest potato buyers in the UK, it was a big milestone.

PepsiCo collaborated with the University of Cambridge and the University of Aberdeen to create two key pieces of technology:

  • iCrop, which allows farmers to precisely measure soil moisture levels to understand how much water was in the soil, and when rain was next due, to minimise water wastage during field irrigation.; and
  • Cool Farm Tool, a digital carbon calculator which allows growers to understand where their carbon consumption was high, so they can model different scenarios and strategies to limit their impact on the environment.

PepsiCo took this new technology to 90 of its British potato growers in water-stressed areas. PepsiCo provided ongoing support to growers, ensuring the technology was properly adopted and integrated.

PepsiCo achieved its goal of reducing the carbon and water used to grow its potatoes by 50 percent over 5 years. This means the 340,000 tonnes of British potatoes purchased each year to make Walkers crisps are now grown using half the water and carbon, benefitting the environment now, and for years to come.

The growers who took part in ’50 in 5’ continue to use iCrop and Cool Farm Tool to maintain their water and carbon reduction.

PepsiCo is now exploring how learnings from ’50 in 5’ can be adapted and applied to other UK growers it works with, such as apple and oat farmers. One development is Opti-Oat technology, a data-gathering drone that makes it easier for growers to maximise productivity.

PepsiCo is also sharing learnings across other European markets, though its Sustainable Farming Initiative (SFI). PepsiCo’s SFI programme works with growers to encourage sustainable agricultural practices.

“Developing a sustainable supply chain has always been one of our top priorities at PepsiCo."

“Through our ambitious ’50 in 5’ programme, we removed 50 percent of the water and carbon used to grow potatoes to make Walkers crisps. This initiative, coupled with ongoing programmes to reduce our impact on the environment, from factory to shelf, are important ways in which we’re proudly contributing to Ambition 2025.”

Martyn Seal European Sustainability Director, PepsiCo

Last reviewed: 05 Apr 2019