NEW DELHI, September 24- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Wednesday he has asked PepsiCo and other soft drink giants to consider adding fruit juice to their sodas to boost the income of local farmers.
Modi said companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo should work with Indian research institutions and the country’s farmers to produce the healthier sodas.
“We drink Pepsi (and) Cola. And other similar beverages are also available in the market, with the trade worth billions of rupees,” Modi told a gathering in the southern state of Karnataka.
“I have asked these companies (to examine) if five percent natural fruit juice can be added to their drinks,” Modi said after inaugurating an industrial park for food processors in the city of Tumkur.
“Even the government research institutions are examining this idea.”
He said the move would hand India’s tens of millions of farmers, many of whom struggle to make a profit, a new market for their produce, while also reducing food wastage by processing unsold fruit.
Modi’s government in August urged PepsiCo to reduce the sugar content of soft drinks. Food processing industry minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal made the request after a meeting with the company’s chairwoman Indra Nooyi.
Modi’s government swept to power in May on a mandate to revive the economy by creating tens of millions of new jobs and boosting manufacturing.
On Tuesday Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr. Pepper Snapple promised in the US to work to reduce that country’s beverage calorie consumption by 20 percent by 2025 in a campaign to counter obesity.