India’s officials have approached PepsiCo in an attempt to lower rates of malnutrition among its impoverished citizens, as well as the affluent – many of whom are prime candidates for diabetes. The Indian government believes the soft drink manufacture’s venture into the country’s food and beverage market has not helped.In addition to increased nutrition, officials hope the company will invest in not only India’s economic health, but the health of its school children, as well.
According to Bloomberg News, “The pitch to the snack-food maker’s India-born CEO comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to attract more foreign investment, restore economic growth, and revive stalled projects to boost investor confidence. The government’s Midday Meals program feeds more than 107 million children each day, though widespread corruption and lack of oversight have led to dozens of deaths in recent years.”
Specifically, India is asking the food and beverage producer to create wholesome foods for inclusion in the government-run school lunch program that’s available in locations throughout the country. While the current lunch offerings are somewhat nourishing, the project has not been without unhealthy hitches.
In Bihar last year, 23 school children were killed due to government-endorsed lunches that were contaminated with pesticides.
In the past, PepsiCo has endeavored to improve its Indian offerings; although, the attempts have had no direct affiliation with India’s school lunch program.
The Wall Street Journal notes, “PepsiCo, which plans to double its India investment to $5.5 billion over the next six years, has made an attempt to help with the country’s health woes before. In 2011, the company launched two snack foods — a cookie and a cheese puff — fortified with extra iron to help fight anemia, which can come from the lack of iron in many Indians’ diets.”
It is uncertain, however, whether PepsiCo India will fund the school lunch program in any way. Company officials have not yet responded to the country’s call for support.