President Richard Evans said the company was “delivering on our promise to reformulate our core products and reshape our portfolio”.
In a company report he highlighted salt levels in Walkers Crisps (which have fallen by an average of 11.7% since 2008) as an example, and claimed that sugar levels in Pepsi were being cut ahead of target.
But Evans said progress had been slower in some other areas. For instance, the company wants 50% of savoury snacks to be baked, or include positive nutrition, by 2015, but the current figure has fallen from 10% in 2008 to 9%.
Ambitions off track
And although the company is ahead of its target for wholegrain servings, it missed its target for fruit and vegetable servings as fruit juice sales declined.
PepsiCo UK also aims to increase the availability of Walkers Baked and low-calorie, sugar-free cola Pepsi Max 25% by 2012, but admitted this ambition is “currently not on track”.
Evans told The Guardian: "We have tried to make the baked crisp as sexy as the regular one, but the reality we learned is that there is too much of a trade-off with taste.
"And in terms of distribution, smaller and convenience stores are closing, pubs are closing, and even including baked crisps in meal deals doesn't offset that contraction.”
PepsiCo UK wants to remove all artificial flavour enhancers, colours and preservatives from Walkers Crisps, but said that its Cheese and Onion flavour presented a particular technical challenge.
Spirit of openness
Evans said in the report: “We have not met all of our short-term targets and in the spirit of openness have chosen to be transparent about the setbacks, the challenges we have faced and how we propose to address them.
“We do not just act as an autonomous company. We are part of a wider industry, and part also of a wider process of change centred on partnership with the [UK] Department of Health [DOH]."
The DOH’s voluntary Responsibility Deal includes a raft of voluntary industry targets regarding salt reduction, removal of trans-fats by 2012, clear unit labelling on alcohol and initiatives to encourage physical activity.
Evans added: “We seek to be an intrinsic part of this process and use our networks, resources and marketing capabilities positively to improve the diets of UK consumers."
PepsiCo chair and ceo Indra Nooyi told an industry audience at the Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit in Barcelona in June that food and beverage manufacturers had played an unwitting part in the obesity crisis.
She called on governments to develop new incentives for firms to invest in healthier products.