PepsiCo Australia & New Zealand CEO Robbert Rietbroek

Pepsi_CEOIn the first of a series of exclusive interviews, Retail World sits down with PepsiCo Australia & New Zealand CEO Robbert Rietbroek.

Mr Rietbroek joined PepsiCo in 2015, but had previously been managing director and CEO of Kimberly-Clark Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, and global vice-president baby and child care. Before that, Mr Rietbroek had spent 16 years at Procter & Gamble in a variety of general management and marketing roles.

He is a director on the board of Australia’s leading FMCG industry association, the Australian Food & Grocery Council (AFGC) and Chairman of the AFGC Health, Nutrition and Scientific Affairs Committee. He is also a director on the board of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia and holds a master’s degree from the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics in the Netherlands.

How is PepsiCo performing in the Australian market and how does this compare with other key markets?

The Australian and New Zealand market continues to be great for our categories. We are well positioned within this market with a portfolio of successful brands and an accelerating pace of innovation across the business.

PepsiCo Australia & New Zealand has a strong portfolio of brands across both snacks and beverages. The team is highly capable, with a diverse pool of global talent among our 1,800 employees.

PepsiCo ANZ is the local operating division of PepsiCo Inc, which in 2015 generated $US63billion [$84.5billion] in net revenue and is among the largest food and beverage companies in the world. PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world and 22 of the brands in PepsiCo’s global portfolio generate more than $1 billion each in retail sales every year.

How are the key brands performing?

We are very proud of our rich heritage with a mix of consumers’ much-loved global and local brands. Smith’s continues to be an Australian icon and is Australia’s favourite and leading potato chip brand. I’m proud to say our number two brand is Red Rock Deli, which was conceived, created and developed in Australia and is Australia’s leading hard-bite potato chip.

Doritos leads the corn chip market and is going from strength to strength with its bold flavours, including our most recent – Doritos Pizza Hut BBQ Meatlovers. Twisties continues to be the undisputed leader of the extruded segment of the snacks market, and Nobby’s has introduced a number of innovations, including ‘Nobby’s On The Go’. Sakata’s latest initiative has taken the traditional rice-cracker recipe and given it a modern twist, infusing it with black sesame seeds.

In the beverage market, Pepsi Max delivers maximum cola taste with no sugar and has been instrumental in establishing and driving sugar-free cola consumption in Australia. It’s the largest brand in our Australian beverage portfolio. In 2009, Pepsi Max became PepsiCo’s 19th billion-dollar global mega brand. Gatorade is backed by more than 50 years of sports science and is widely used by many of the world’s elite athletes and teams.

There are lots of other opportunities to grow our overall beverage portfolio – which also includes Pepsi Regular, Mountain Dew and 7 Up – driving white-space opportunities.

Given your extensive career in FMCG with companies such as P&G and Kimberly-Clark, how does your experience influence your vision for PepsiCo?

I have been fortunate to have worked and lived in various countries in Europe, South America, North America, the Middle East/Africa, and now in Australia. I spent 16 wonderful years with Procter & Gamble in roles of increasing responsibility and complexity, both strategic and operational, around the globe. After P&G, I spent almost four years with Kimberly-Clark, first heading up the global baby care business in Texas and then running KC in Australia and New Zealand, based in Sydney.

Firsthand experience with consumers in developed and emerging markets and partnerships with retailers across the globe has allowed me to leverage my global network and knowledge base to bring best practices to PepsiCo in Australia and New Zealand. I have a passionate external focus in all we do: first and foremost with our retail customers, secondarily with the consumer and shopper and, thirdly, with key stakeholders across the industry. This has allowed us to lay down a compelling vision for PepsiCo to be ‘Australia and New Zealand’s Most Loved‘ across all of our stakeholders.

What personal philosophies drive you in business?

I believe in reaching for greatness in all we do. This begins with a realisation that we can grow to become better leaders every day. As a leader, I believe that learning agility is the key to continued success. Leadership is a life-long journey that can be exciting and rewarding. It also means we should always set high standards and strive for continuous improvement in all we do. I believe in the importance of a strong and united team, continuous team engagement and team-building efforts.

With regards to our business, it’s important we understand our unique role in the industry. We need to ensure we deliver superior customer service, build the strongest possible brands and deliver qualified, insight-driven innovation that leads the industry and is preferred over the competition. We need to futureproof our portfolio and business model and we need to do this in the most cost- and resource-efficient manner possible, with minimum impact on the environment, to ensure long-term sustainability. We should strive to contribute positively to society to create growth and be a force for good.

What principles does PepsiCo operate on? What is important to the business?

At the heart of PepsiCo ANZ is ‘performance with purpose’. Our goal is to deliver top-tier financial performance while creating sustainable value for all stakeholders by:

  • Providing a wide range of snack and beverages, from treats to healthier eats.
  • Finding innovative ways to minimise our impact on the environment and reduce operating costs.
  • Providing a safe and inclusive workplace for our employees.
  • Respecting, supporting and investing in communities.

At PepsiCo, we focus on sustainability: human, environmental and talent. We are more committed to performance with purpose than ever before. It’s how we position our business for sustainable long-term growth.

What are PepsiCo’s marketing strategies for the year ahead and what’s in the company’s future?

PepsiCo ANZ has rolled out an aggressive program of innovation thus far in 2016, launching more than 20 new products. PepsiCo will continue to invest in brand building and marketing innovation on key brands. We have an exciting innovation program for 2017, probably one of our best ever, including winning new products across our core categories and brands.

With regards to how we are evolving our brand building, we are decisively moving brands and brand investments into the digital space. We are keen to drive them harder and bring to life our associations with the AFL, All Blacks, and Australian Cricket through the creation of highly engaging consumer content.

Our future is bright. We will continue to seek closer partnerships with our retail customers and increasingly move to co-creation of innovation and marketing plans, and in-store solutions. We will invest in our brands to ensure consumer awareness and trial. Overall, we will continue to strive to be Australia’s most loved company, with all our key stakeholders, be it customers, consumers, employees or other partners.

One of the exciting programs we are working on for the beginning of 2017 is the renewal of our Australia and New Zealand support office in Sydney, which will become a state-of-the-art, open-plan, technology-enabled hub. We plan to move to a mostly wireless, paperless office with advanced technology to enable our brand building, customer service, operations and more to be at the leading edge of our industry. I look forward to welcoming our stakeholders to our planned opening in early 2017.

How does PepsiCo work with retailers to drive mutually beneficial outcomes?

Our retail partners are our number one priority every day, as we drive to a customer-centric culture throughout PepsiCo ANZ. Our role in the value chain is simple: deliver the strongest brands and products, develop superior innovation and provide exceptional customer service.

When our customers do well, generally we do well. The opposite is also true. So we are committed to help our retail partners grow their categories sustainably and profitably and help them shape the future of the business. We connect shopper and consumer insights with commercial strategy and partner with our customers to bring our exciting innovation to life to help grow their top and bottom line and win with the shopper.

What are retailers doing well, and what areas can be improved on? 

We are blessed with an abundance of choice, including fresh fruit and vegetables and other food and grocery products that are distributed efficiently and effectively across this huge continent. This is not a simple exercise, given Australia is roughly the same size as the US. but with a population that’s smaller than that of California.

The Australian food and grocery industry, in partnership with retailers, are exceptional and together play a key role in sustaining Australia. They not only provide food for Australians, but also create jobs across the nation and are a key pillar of our communities. They are eager to learn and very open minded to reapply best practices from Europe, North America and other markets. They continue to push the envelope on improving offerings to consumers, whether its in the deli segment, ready-made meals or sushi bars.

Like most of us in business, there’s always more to do, but let’s recognise the retailers for the amazing job they do every day. I am proud to work with our retailer partners.

What have been the biggest impacts on the grocery industry since your arrival in Australia?

The introduction of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct, introduced by the AFGC in partnership with retailers and which has been welcomed by both grocery suppliers and retail partners. It will shape the way business is be done for years to come and promote productive partnerships.

The other important force in the market is ‘The Advantage Survey’, which allows our key customers to assess us as a supplier against business relationship and support, personnel, category development, consumer marketing support, customer marketing/promotion practices, supply chain management and customer service/support. It has really brought a degree of transparency to the retailer-supplier relationship and I have no doubt encourages continued growth and development of our industry.

Where do you see the grocery industry over the next few years? 

I am very optimistic. The Australian food and grocery industry is growing and investment is continuing in automation and capacity. The consumer demands innovation and quality products, so we will do everything we can to give them the best. Australia also continues to grow as the food basket for Asia. With the resources available to us, we are truly blessed to be part of the industry here.

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