PepsiCo Sets Target for Calorie Reduction in Beverages by 2025

nutrition chart

PepsiCo says it intends cutting down significantly on the calorie count of its beverages by 2025 as part of its new initiative to combat a variety of issues, ranging from health concerns to water efficiency.

The leading beverage company said on Monday that at least two-thirds of its soft drinks will contain 100 calories or fewer per 12-ounce serving by 2025. That will mark a significant improvement on the current proportion of about 40 percent of such beverages in its range.

“Over the last decade, we have made progress in reducing sugar,” PepsiCo Chairman and Chief Executive Indra Nooyi told CNBC. “But there’s a lot more we needed to do because countries which loved sugar were growing faster than countries which were consuming lower-sugar products.”

The global beverage leader will work to achieve the set target by introducing more zero- and low-calorie products. It will also look to reformulate some of its existing drinks to reduce sugar content.

The move represents a significant commitment by PepsiCo which, alongside rival Coca-Cola, has come under intense pressure from governments and health professionals for the sugary drinks they produce. These beverages have been identified as a major contributor to the rising obesity epidemic and incidence of diabetes. Health advocates have also called for tax on sugar-based drinks to discourage their consumption.

This month, the World Health Organization suggested taxes on sugary drinks as a means of improving health. Such taxes, which are already in existence in France and Mexico, have expectedly been contested by soft drinks makers.

PepsiCo, which makes more than $1 billion annually from the sale of its sugary flagship drink Pepsi, says its new global target for calorie reduction is more ambitious than the earlier target of cutting sugar in some drinks by 25 percent in select markets by 2020. This it attributes to advancement in the science and discovery of new flavors requiring less sweetening.

The beverage company has been pushing its low-calorie products, including a new Diet Pepsi with aspartame. It announced Pepsi Zero Sugar to replace Pepsi Max in the summer.

Although mostly known for its Pepsi drink, PepsiCo makes just about 12 percent of its revenue from the famous cola brand. Carbonated soft drinks account for 25 percent of its $63 billion annual revenue.

The rest of PepsiCo’s revenue comes from unsweetened drinks, including iced tea and coffee products marketed under the Starbucks and Pure Leaf brands, among other products. The company also produces a variety of flavored water, juices, snacks, and the Gatorade drink brand.

As part of the PepsiCo’s sustainability goals, CEO Nooyi said efforts will be made to increase water savings and reducing greenhouse gas emissions across its global operations in the coming years.

The beverage leader also said there are ongoing efforts to cut down on the amount of sodium in its products. It has a target of reducing sodium in three-quarters of its food products across the globe to no more than 1.3 milligrams per calorie by 2025.

PepsiCo, which says it now prepares its snacks with “heart-healthy oil” in many countries, also disclosed that saturated fat in at least three quarters of its foods portfolio will not be higher than 1.1 grams per 100 calories by 2025.

Indian Consumers Have No Other Alternative but Payday Loans

no choice

When you do not have access to the banking system and conventional forms of credit then you have no other choice but to turn to the likes of payday loans, check cashing services and others. As consumers utilize payday loans, prepaid cards and other similar items, they’ll notice they cost a lot.

For a country that has millions of impoverished citizens, every dollar, or rupee, counts.

Despite being one of the biggest developing markets in the world today, many consumers in India lack bank accounts, credit cards and other products provided by traditional financial institutions. Due to this trend, a large number of unbanked Indian consumers turn to local startups to borrow funds.

For the past few years, a growing number of young professionals, who also happen to be employed, are using the likes of SlicePay and Cashe, to access credit. Since they do not own a credit card and have yet to build up a credit history, they use alternatives, like payday loan stores.

At the same time, however, it is being reported that there is an increase in bad loans. This has prompted traditional banks to be even more cautious than ever, which also means the demand for alternative financing from small businesses and peer-to-peer (P2P) services continue to go up.

Payday loans and alternative financial services were popular, and now even more so.

The research has found that 64 unconventional lending firms were started in India last year. So far in 2016, there have been 34 more new startups. India is now No. 3 in personal loan startups.
That’s right. India only ranks behind the United States and China for personal loan startups.

Moving forward, Indian startups are collaborating with non-banking financial corporations (NBFCs) or even applying for their very own NBFC license. This allows the partnerships to utilize a loophole in current regulations created by various jurisdictions across the South Asian country. However, as part of the regulations, NBFCs are permitted to lend out money, but are prohibited to receive deposits.

In other words, the lending startup industry is booming. The main problem is that they cannot source funds. Therefore, they turn to the banks that offer low interest rates with good credit scores.

What makes the trend in India fascinating to financial experts and business professionals is that these startups are experimenting in various segments of the marketplace. Some are providing personal loans, while others are offering customers with payday loans. The market is filled with choices.

The interest rates are not too bad. Some even offer cheap payday loans that can be taken out for up to 30 days and has an interest rate between 24 and 30 percent. This may seem high to some, but the lenders are taking all of the risks.

As Indian entrepreneurs look to tap into a potentially lucrative market, other North American and European jurisdictions are looking to rein in this industry. Canadians, Americans and Britons are all working hard to either restrict or prohibit the short-term, high-interest loan model. Many of these places are succeeding, but it seems the developing markets are ignoring the warnings and moving ahead.

Volkswagen Agrees to Pay American Lawyers $175 Million in Emissions Suit

Volkswagen AG

German automaker Volkswagen AG has reportedly agreed to pay $175 million to U.S. lawyers who are suing it on behalf of some 475,000 vehicle owners over emission issues, according to Reuters.

The payment is meant to cover the legal fees of the lawyers representing VW diesel owners in a class-action suit against the German auto firm over what is now known as the Dieselgate scandal.

Sources told Reuters that the settlement covers attorney fees and some other costs. It marks another obstacle removed in the way to resolving the multi-billion dollar class-action lawsuit, as Volkswagen works to put the forgettable experience behind it.

The lawyers had previously asked for up to $332.5 million to cover their fees and other costs in a class-action settlement that would pay $10 billion to American owners of 2.0-liter, pollution-causing vehicles. Elizabeth Cabraser, lead lawyer for the car owners’ legal team, said in August that the higher amount requested was even significantly lower than about 25 percent established in the law.

In September 2015, Volkswagen admitted that it used advanced secret software to enable its pollution-emitting vehicles to pass exhaust emissions tests across the globe. The tool allowed its cars sold in the U.S. since 2009 to release up to 40 times pollution levels allowed under local law.

The owners’ settlement of $10.033 billion, which was agreed in June, will see the world’s No. 2 car maker buy back affected vehicles and pay compensation on them. This is the largest buyout ever in the U.S. auto industry. The company has the option of offering vehicle fixes subject to regulatory approval and if owners agree.

Volkswagen has also agreed to pay its dealers in the U.S. up to $1.21 billion as compensation. In addition, it has reached agreement to pay $600 million to 44 states in the country and to spend up to $2 billion on zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) promotion and infrastructure. It will be required to spend another $2.7 billion to counteract the effects of pollution.

In all, the German automaker looks set to pay up to $16.7 billion in compensation to its vehicle owners as well as dealers and regulators at both state and federal levels.

There will be a hearing on Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer to determine whether to approve the settlement for the car owners. It would also be determined at that hearing whether to grant approval to the $175 million the automaker has agreed to pay the lawyers in the class-action suit as settlement for their fees.

However, Volkswagen may still have to pay several billions more in fines. The U.S. Justice Department is considering financial penalties for larger pollution-emission vehicles that were not covered in the $10 billion settlement, as reported by Reuters.

Discussions are currently ongoing between the German automaker and American regulators on whether it should also buy back thousands of 3.0-liter Audi, Porsche and VW vehicles in the U.S.

The Dieselgate scandal has badly hurt Volkswagen’s global business and done significant damage to its reputation. It resulted in the removal of its chief executive in 2015.

Iran to Produce 4 Million Barrels of Oil Per Day


Iran has revealed an intention to raise its oil output to four million barrels per day despite efforts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to regulate supply so as to shore up and improve on falling prices.

The plan was revealed by Ali Kardor, managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company, during a conference in Tehran on Monday. The increase in output will mark only a slight improvement on the current 3.89 million barrels a day that the Persian Gulf country is producing.

Iran’s deputy oil minister for international affairs, Amir Hossein Zamaninia, said the country is aiming to once again reach the levels of production it was operating at before the imposition of sanctions on its economy years ago. He put the pre-sanction production figure at 4.085 million barrels per day.

The sanctions were relaxed at the beginning of this year.

Zamaninia said the OPEC’s third-largest member exports over 2.2 million barrels a day currently. Bloomberg data show oil output in September stood at 3.63 million barrels per day.

The plan by Iran to boost output may turn out a cog in the wheel of OPEC’s drive to push up oil prices, although it is one the bloc may permit. The country was the second-largest producer in the group before international sanctions were tightened against it in 2012. It is believed to be working to regain its position.

OPEC members are scheduled to meet in November with a view to reaching an agreement on how to go about output cuts, from which it is likely Iran will be exempted. Zamaninia revealed that production quotas for individual member countries will be discussed at the meeting.

However, Kardor has declared that the determination of his country’s oil production based on information from secondary sources, including journalists and analysts, would not be acceptable.

Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said the country targets crude oil production of 4.28 million barrels per day by 2020 and condensate output of 1 million barrels a day as early as 2018. He said condensate output stands at 688,000 barrels per day at the moment.

Zanganeh has also expressed hope that the country’s natural gas production will reach the same level as that of Qatar by early next year. The oil minister said the main focus of the Persian Gulf nation right was to develop the massive South Pars gas field which it jointly holds with Qatar.

Other shared oil fields are to be developed as well in the drive to boost production.

The Iranian oil minister disclosed that focus would be on improving the rate at which oil is discovered when entering into new contracts with both domestic and international companies.

Kardor stated that Iran has plans to tender the new contracts by November’s ending.

The economy of Iran depends heavily on crude oil production. The country was significantly hurt by years of economic sanctions which prevented it from exporting its oil products to many countries. It has been working to make the most of the reprieve finally granted it this year. This explains its reluctance toward submitting to any production limits ordered by OPEC.