Powered potatoes: PepsiCo pushes entrepreneurial collaboration as ‘vital’ APAC sustainability strategy

As part of PepsiCo’s overarching transformation strategy pep+​ launched in September 2021 and to meet its three major pillars of Positive Agriculture, Positive Value Chain and Positive Choices, it launched a series of sustainability-focused accelerator programmes globally over the past several years, from North America to the Middle East.

According to the firm, these initiatives have been an important part of its strategy to find ‘groundbreaking’ solutions for sustainable packaging and other impactful climate actions, with a lot of innovation from here being cultivated in the start-up scene.

“Our engagement with all finalists of the Greenhouse Accelerator Programme signifies a vital step in PepsiCo’s commitment to net zero and responsible growth,”​ PepsiCo APAC CEO Wern Yuen Tan told us.

“[This is a valuable means to] catalyse the ecosystem, by supporting entrepreneurs in addressing our shared sustainability challenges and inspiring the next generation of business leaders to drive meaningful change.”

The PepsiCo APAC Greenhouse Accelerator​ Programme ran since June this year, the first the brand has held in the APAC region. Carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology (CCUS) firm Powered Carbon was announced as the winner in October, defeating nine other finallists from actoss China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore to win the US$100,000 prize.

All finalists were mentored by PepsiCo’s industry experts over a four-month mentorship and given a US$20,000 grant to refine their business models, fortify market strategies and enhancing potential impact.

“Powered Carbon’s groundbreaking technology can utilise carbon dioxide to cultivate fungi for eco-friendly fertiliser production that can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional fertilisers,”​ he said.

“This is a component [very relevant to PepsiCo’s supply chain] and as an example of how we are working with these entrepreneurs, their eco-friendly products are being tested on the cultivation of potatoes in PepsiCo’s Shandong farm in China.

“Pilot results are expected to be revealed in the fourth quarter of 2023.”

Potatoes are a crucial food item in PepsiCo’s supply chain, with much of this going to the production of the firm’s Lay’s branded potato chips amongst others. This is so much so that it has invested a great deal into technology and expertise when it comes to improving potato production​ in major producer markets such as India over the past several decades.

Powering on

Powered Carbon has big plans for its US$100,000 grant, with a focus on further improving the end product.

“We will utilise this grant to further develop and implement [technologies that lead to the development of] a sustainable food system, whist maintaining excellent produce quality,”​ Powered Carbon CEO Kehan Wang added.

“The financial support and invaluable mentorship we have received from PepsiCo over the past few months has really helped to build up our confidence, to grow the business at a scale we couldn’t have envisioned before.”

The other finallists that Powered Carbon triumphed over were: China’s RemakeHub, Singapore’s Muuse, Thailand’s Green2Get, Vietnam’s HRK Group, and New Zealand’s Turn Systems Corporation within the Packaging industry; and China’s Enwise, Singapore’s MEDS Venture Global, New Zealand’s Aspiring Materials and Australia’s Adiona within the Climate industry.