Web-based gadget aids farmers supplying PepsiCo
Food and beverage giant PepsiCo is preparing to roll out its hi-tech crop management system i-crop around the world
The web-based tool, which was developed by the firm in partnership with Cambridge University, is a crop management system that enables its supplying farmers to monitor, manage and reduce their water use and carbon emissions, while maximizing yield and quality.
The technology is currently being trialled at 22 UK farms. PepsiCo has ambitions to reduce carbon emissions and water usage by 50% across the farming of its core crops in the next five years.
The technology will be rolled-out in Holland, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Turkey in 2011. The company hopes to take it to India, China, Mexico and Australia by the following year.
As one of the world's largest food and beverage businesses, with brands including Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade and Pepsi-Cola, the company invests heavily in farming. This year, the firm announced 15 global goals and commitments to protect natural resources through innovation and more efficient use of land, energy, water and packaging.
In the UK, it is the largest buyer of British potatoes and one of the largest purchasers of British oats and apples, using 100% British produce in Walkers crisps, Copella English Apple juice, Quaker Oats, Oatso Simple and Scott's porridge.
"Farming is in the DNA of our business; we rely on fresh produce every day. Finding ways to produce more food with less environmental impact is essential to our future," said Richard Evans, PepsiCo's UK and Ireland president.
"i-crop has the potential to revolutionise the way we farm, enabling our farmers to save costs and water and carbon consumption, while at the same time improving their yields. I am immensely proud of this innovation which I hope will also benefit PepsiCo farmers around the world."
In its first Sustainable Farming Report, PepsiCo UK outlined how it is working in partnership with its 350 British farmers to reach its aim of '50 in 5'. Other initiatives announced include trials of new low-carbon fertilisers and plans to replace more than 75% of the UK company's current potato stock with varieties that will significantly improve farmers' yields and decrease wastage by 2015.
"The food industry is starting to recognize that in order to fully embed sustainability and biodiversity in its business practices, a large part of the focus must be on the agricultural supply chain," said Richard Perkins, senior commodities adviser at WWF.
"In this respect PepsiCo UK has taken a leadership role in recognizing that it is, at its heart, an agricultural business. The focus of the business on improving its key environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas
emissions - in the field and on the farm - is most welcome."
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