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Three ways PepsiCo transformed its supply chain

Company has embraced partnerships, setting big goals in recent years
laura maxwell pepsico
Laura Maxwell of PepsiCo Foods North America spoke about supply chain transformation at the Manifest Conference in Las Vegas.

Embracing the complexity of the food and beverage supply chain is not for the faint of heart. Laura Maxwell, SVP, supply chain at PepsiCo Foods North America, shared the company’s experience doing just that over the past several years at Manifest 2024, the supply chain and logistics conference in Las Vegas, explaining how the company’s “Always. Everywhere.” motto plays a part in its most recent transformation.

According to Maxwell, PepsiCo emerged from the pandemic with a desire to focus on always being a consumer's choice in foods. For the company, that meant going beyond beverages and snacks and moving into other segments such as meat snacks, pasta, sauces, syrups, cookies and much more. Broadening its portfolio led PepsiCo to take on even more supply chain complexity thanks to a wider group of line items.

As for the everywhere portion, PepsiCo has had to focus on being wherever consumers expected to find the foods they want, including in direct commerce solutions like and in other unique go-to-market systems. With that mission in mind, Maxwell explained, PepsiCo had an obligation to change.

The company looked at three main factors as it worked to change its supply chain, including:

Go small to go big

PepsiCo knew it couldn’t change its journey alone. “We needed technology partners, we needed innovation partners, we needed digital partners,” Maxwell explained. “In order to remove all those obstacles and really get to a place where complexity was not something that we shied away from, but where we said we're going to embrace it in pursuit of the ‘Always. Everywhere.’ vision.”

READ: Business futurist Kate Ancketill on the big disruptors and trends retailers need to watch

That’s where PepsiCo Labs comes in. The initiative was launched five years ago to help the company become a leader in technology innovation by integrating emerging solutions, and since then, it has evaluated more than 2,500 startups and helped usher in more than 200 pilots. 

“They understand the problems of the business and then seek out emerging technology, innovation and digital solutions that can help us solve them,” Maxwell said. The PepsiCo Labs team also helps other teams within the company rapidly scale solutions. While not all solutions end up being a perfect fit, it’s all become part of PepsiCo’s supply chain journey.

Sustainability through declaring "double"

Setting goals seems easy enough, but PepsiCo learned how to be aggressive in this endeavor. “When you have to transform, you need to set enormous goals,” Maxwell explained. “Goals that scare people – and then figure out how to go after them.”

For PepsiCo, that included setting a goal to make everything measurable, such as water usage, carbon and more. The company then chose to work toward doubling their progress over a year. 

READ: Sustainable shopping: Where do we go from here?

According to Maxwell, this part of the equation wasn’t just about setting enormous goals, but also being willing to put the resources and investments in place to achieve them. “So doing all of that, all of a sudden the capability of the teams to be able to move forward in ways that we never thought possible came to life,” she said.

PepsiCo has brought several massive goals to life in recent years, including a first-of-its-kind, seven-year collaboration with Walmart focused on regenerative agriculture, as well as the deployment of hundreds of electric vehicles to its fleet in an effort to minimize its carbon footprint.

A focus on partnerships

At the end of the day, PepsiCo has chosen to complete its supply chain transformation with the help of myriad partners, and Maxwell believes that’s a big part of the company’s success. 

“Being part of a supply chain that embraces complexity and then looks for partners that can help us create a future where we can absolutely go for it, is definitely going to be one of those things that helps us invent a future that is even better than the one that we see today,” Maxwell concluded.

Manifest 2024 is being held Feb. 5-7 at Caesars Forum in Las Vegas.

This article first appeared on Progressive Grocer

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