PepsiCo will begin incorporating cashew juice into its blended juice products next spring, in a partnership with the Clinton Foundation that aims to encourage sustainable agriculture and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Maharashtra, India.
At the center of the partnership is cashew fruit, the swollen stem of a cashew tree from which cashew nuts are formed.
Cashew fruit, which typically goes unused by most cashew nut farmers, is high in nutritional value. It is rich in potassium and contains as much as five times the vitamin C of an orange and 50 times the vitamin C of an apple.
The PepsiCo-Clinton Foundation inaugural project was launched in Maharashtra, India with an agriculture initiative to source cashew fruit from smallholder farmers.
The arrangement is expected to create a new ingredient supply for PepsiCo’s local juice business, while simultaneously improving the livelihoods of thousands of cashew growers in the region. Most cashew farmers in this area of India farm on less than one hectare of land and live below the poverty line.
Through the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership model, founded by President Bill Clinton and philanthropist Frank Giustra, this initiative will apply modern agricultural techniques to improve cashew farming practices, boost yield and productivity, and increase income for local smallholder farmers.
It will also scale up and strengthen India’s cashew supply chain to build the future potential of a domestic and export market, Pepsi says.
The program’s first India cashew harvest is currently underway. The fruit will be sourced from more than 2,000 smallholder farmers in 2014, with plans to scale the opportunity to as many as 15,000 over the next five years.
In another sustainable sourcing initiative, in March Pepsi committed to establishing a third-party audit program based on the social, environmental and human rights standards of its top sugar sourcing country, Brazil, by the end of 2014.