This week’s The New Yorker features an article about the CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, and her vision to expand the company’s line of nutritious drinks and snacks. With people becoming fatter and fatter and less and less healthy, she feels its her company’s duty to help provide people with healthier choices.
Here’s my take. I think it’s really sweet that Ms. Nooyi wants to help shape (pardon the pun) the world, but I don’t think her business model is going to succeed. Corporations need profits to continue, just as humans need vitamins and minerals. (See what I did there? I threw in that whole “we need vitamins and minerals” thing, since you and I know that most people are just drinking Pepsi and eating Fritos and not actually putting nutrients into their bodies.) At the end of the day, PepsiCo’s shareholders are going to see that the nutritious side is not aiding the bottom line, and Ms. Nooyi will either be ousted, if she puts too much stock into this endeavor, or she’ll just back away from it. (Investors are already balking at this, BTW.)
Change has to come from the individual consumers. People have to want to eat and drink better. Maybe one day people will think, “Hey, that chick with The Cancer appears healthier than me. I wonder what she eats and drinks…” Maybe then they’ll start eating their fruits and veggies.
To me, the only way Ms. Nooyi’s plan works is if she makes it a PR initiative that is not intended to be a major profit center but rather a good deed that makes the company look good.