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Tuesday, Dec 19, 2006

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Nooyi looks to tackle pesticide issues

Our Bureau

Co working on tech to detect even very small quantities

What she says
I stand by each and every product we sell
Ban on colas no way to tackle obesity
We are willing to work with the Government

MAKING A POINT: Ms Indra Nooyi, President and CEO, PepsiCo, addressing a press conference in the Capital on Monday. Seeking to completely undo the damage done by a pesticide controversy, she said her company gave safety of products highest priority and that it would fully comply with whatever standards the Government sets. (Report on Marketing page) — Kamal Narang

New Delhi , Dec. 18

On her first overseas visit after taking over as President and CEO of PepsiCo, Ms Indra K. Nooyi today spoke at length about the strategic importance of the Indian market, the growing emphasis on the health platform for the company and the pesticide controversy.

Ms Nooyi said that the company was working on a technology that will detect even very small quantities of pesticide and it would like to work with the Indian Government to help implement the same for finished products.

"We and Coca-Cola Co are in the process of validating a breakthrough, science based technology to reliably and consistently measure low levels of pesticide residues in finished soft drinks," she said.

``I personally stand behind each and every product we sell," Ms Nooyi added at a press interaction held here.

Address obesity

Meanwhile, reacting to the Health Minister, Mr Anbumani Ramadoss', proposal to ban sale of colas in educational institutions, she said, ``We want to do constructive work with the Government. We welcome any kind of engagement the Government wants to have with us. Children have ways of getting colas in schools. When there are bans it is not effective. The real challenge is addressing obesity and we need to have comprehensive dialogue on this issue."

Ms Nooyi further said that PepsiCo had long-term plans for India, which was among its high-growth markets globally. ``India is of great strategic importance to us and, along with China, it is among our fastest-growing markets," she said.

More investments

PepsiCo, which today has an array of products in India ranging from soft drinks to bottled water to health drinks and snacks, has invested $700 million (along with its partners) in the market since beginning operations in 1989.

Ms Nooyi said the company would make further investments in India and also launch newer products from its vast portfolio. "Pipeline (for new products) is abundant and they will come in as the time comes and market demands,'' she said.

Refusing to divulge financial figures on the company's operations in India, Ms Nooyi said the company was ``yet to reach superior levels'' of profits. ``Superior profitability at this stage is not one of our goals,'' she said.

Meanwhile, Pepsi India has recently set up a R&D centre (for beverages) in Gurgaon from where it would be formulating customised beverages for the Indian consumer.

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