Pepsi Plus High-End Chefs Equals Healthy Junk Food?

pepsi

The maker of the second-most popular soda in the world and aspiring members of the fine dining elite aren’t exactly associated with health food, let alone making health food together. But according to The New York Times‘s latest industry trend piece, PepsiCo and its peer corporations are enlisting higher-end chefs to learn a thing or two about how to make their food less salty, fatty, and/or caloric, all without tasting like it.

The high-brow angle is new, sure, but it’s part of a broader pivot in the processed food industry that’s starting to look increasingly less like lip service and more like a good-faith effort to change its business model.

The piece doesn’t provide much in the way of numbers, opting instead to drop in on an event where Pepsi’s vice president for R&D plays spectator to eight chefs at the Culinary Institute of America’s West coast test kitchen. It’s also pretty light on explaining how Pepsi plans on getting from Point A (low-fat creations with rarefied ingredients like Chilean sea bass) to Point B (healthy Fritos). But the point is that Pepsi is beginning to think outside the box when it comes to upping the nutritional profile of its products.

Interesting, the piece invites comparison to, but makes no mention of, David Freedman’s controversial Atlantic Monthly cover story “How Junk Food Can End Obesity.” Like Freedman, the Times‘s Stephanie Strom emphasizes that PepsiCo and fast food companies like Taco Bell are making significant changes on their own accord, playing the long game of investing in R&D to attract a wider, more health-conscious audience. The high-brow angle is new, sure, but it’s part of a broader pivot in the processed food industry that’s starting to look increasingly less like lip service and more like a good-faith effort to change its business model.

[via NY Times]

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