PepsiCo Invests in Nutrition Research Lab

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PepsiCo Invests in Nutrition Research Lab

PURCHASE, N.Y. -- PepsiCo Inc. will open a biology and nutrition research lab at the site of a former North Carolina textile mill that is now a research park.

Billionaire David Murdock—who owns the site now called the North Carolina Research Campus and Dole Foods—revealed the PepsiCo commitment during a dedication of the first of three primary buildings at the Kannapolis, N.C. facility, according to media reports.

The beverage maker will build a 4,000-square-foot lab on the campus, according to PepsiCo's chief scientific officer, Mehmood Khan. The company, based in Purchase, N.Y., owns such brands as Frito Lay, Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana beverages.

"At PepsiCo, we recognize the need to stay at the forefront of nutrition knowledge. Increasingly, future innovation will be driven by leading-edge science," said Khan, who guides PepsiCo's long-term research strategy and agenda for business opportunities. "Through our partnership with the North Carolina Research Campus, we're confident that the collaborative research of some of the world's leading nutrition academic researchers and PepsiCo scientists will result in further advancement in nutrition and health and ultimately, the best products for consumers."

This investment comes on the heels of PepsiCo’s announcement last week of plans to eliminate 3,300 jobs and shutter six plants in an effort to save $1.2 billion over three years. As reported by The Associated Press, the job cuts amount to roughly 1.8 percent of PepsiCo's global workforce of about 185,000 employees, and will affect managerial and factory jobs both in and outside the U.S. Most will be eliminated in the coming months.

"This will enable our competitiveness and give us breathing room to respond," Chief Executive Indra Nooyi said on a conference call. "It is no news to you the economy is turbulent and there are uncertainties and volatility in every part of the environment."

Last week’s announcement came as the global snacks and drinks company reported a 9.5 percent drop in third-quarter profit, missing Wall Street expectations. PepsiCo also issued a downbeat profit outlook for the fourth quarter and full year, the AP reported.

PepsiCo plans to use the savings resulting from the job cuts primarily to revive lagging U.S. soft drink sales. On Friday, the company revealed that it is making a major multi-year investment in its soft drink business to restore growth. Overall sales of carbonated soft drinks have fallen in each of the past three years, according to media reports.

The first step of the plan is a change for graphics and logos on the cans of Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist drinks, Reuters reported, citing Pepsi spokeswoman Nicole Bradley. The changes include redesigning the well-known red, white and blue globe on Pepsi cans, calling Mountain Dew "Mtn Dew" on packages, and streamlining graphics. Bradley said the redesigned packages would be on store shelves early next year.

Pepsi plans to follow with a new marketing campaign as well.