New Delhi: She helped soft drinks giant PepsiCo double net profit to $5.6 billion last year and in the seven years since 2000, she showed the way for it to increase annual revenues by 72%. If PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi were to look back, one would assume she would be content with her achievements.
Yet, if she could change the past, the ‘bubbly´ lady from Chennai would have loved to take head on firebrand green activist Sunita Narain, Director of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), when the pesticide-in-cola controversy first broke out in India in 2003.
In an interview with US-based magazine BusinessWeek, Nooyi blamed herself “for letting things out of hand,” when CSE raked up the issue of pesticides in soft drinks.
“One thing I should have done was to appear in India three years ago and say: ‘Cut it out. These products are the safest in the world, bar none, and your tests are wrong´,” the magazine quoted the India-born Pepsi chief as saying.
Admitting that the company’s marketing strategy also made the matter worse, she said: “Combine the public seeing the mercenary side of us, along with the fact that this was an American company.”
In the run up to the controversy, in December 2002, Supreme Court had pulled up PepsiCo for damaging environment by painting its advertisement on rocks in the Himalayan mountains, which was followed by allegations of depleting ground water by its various bottling units.
She, however, added that public didn’t see “the other things we were doing” and implied the company was a victim of its own image.