WASHINGTON -- US soft drink and snacks giant PepsiCo unveiled plans Monday to cut sugar, fat and sodium in its products as part of a broad initiative to address health, nutrition and environmental concerns.
"We believe that a healthier future for all people and our planet means a more successful future for PepsiCo," said Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo chairman and chief executive officer.
"These commitments are shared by all of our businesses and reflect our focus on profitable, long-term growth and will guide us as we continue to build a portfolio of enjoyable and wholesome foods and beverages for consumers around the world."
Among the plans "to encourage people to live healthier lives," PepisCo said it would reduce the average sodium per serving in key global food brands in key markets by 25 percent by 2015; cut saturated fat by 15 percent by 2020; and reduce average added sugar in its drinks 25 percent by 2020.
PepsiCo, which calls itself the world's second largest food and beverage company, said it also would "eliminate the direct sale of full-sugar soft drinks to primary and secondary schools around the globe by 2012."
The maker of soft drinks including Pepsi-Cola and Gatorade and Frito-Lay brand snacks also will expand "corporate contribution initiatives to promote healthier communities, including enhancing diet and physical activity programs" and "invest in business and research and development to expand offerings of more affordable, nutritionally relevant products for underserved and lower-income communities."
Additionally, the company will work to increase access to safe water in developing countries, reduce packaging weight and greenhouse gas emissions.
The move comes with politicians and activist groups pressing for a so-called fat tax on the soft drinks industry, based on the argument that sweet beverages are responsible for an upsurge of obesity in the United States.
Proponents of the tax say that soft drinks should be treated like tobacco so that the government can effectively price people away from their bad habits. The soda industry dismisses the cigarettes parallel and has lobbied hard -- successfully so far -- against the levy.
Earlier this month, leading companies, including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, joined former president Bill Clinton in announcing the results of an initiative they said had reduced by 88 percent the number of drinks calories in US schools since 2004.