CNBC News Releases


Steffanie Marchese


One-hour CNBC Original Documentary Reported by NBC News' Lester Holt Premieres on Thursday, November 10th at 9PM ET/PT on CNBC

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., October 31, 2011--What do Diet Pepsi, Tropicana orange juice, Fritos corn chips, and Cap’n Crunch cereal have in common? They’re among the more than 3000 products made by PepsiCo, one of the most sprawling and iconic companies in the world.

On Thursday, November 10th at 9PM ET/PT, CNBC presents “Pepsi’s Challenge,” a CNBC Original documentary reported by Lester Holt, anchor of NBC’s “Dateline” and “Weekend Nightly News” and co-host of NBC’s “Weekend Today.” CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, takes an unprecedented look inside the quest of a global powerhouse to transform itself, and its image, to the world.

The documentary profiles the outspoken CEO and Chairman of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, who took the company’s reigns in 2006. A diehard Yankee fan and former member of an all-girl rock band, Nooyi is also one of the most powerful women in business, and was at the center of two of PepsiCo’s most important acquisitions— Tropicana and Quaker Oats. Built largely on the sales of sodas and snacks, PepsiCo, under Nooyi’s direction, is now moving in a new direction, aiming to more than double the revenue of its nutrition business by 2020. Although she’s been hailed as a visionary, some industry observers say Nooyi’s push towards healthier fare is a costly diversion and may be one reason Pepsi has fallen to third place behind Coke and Diet Coke for the first time.

CNBC travels to the southwest corner of China with PepsiCo’s Senior Vice President of Research Greg Yep as he searches for new ingredients that could lead to the next million-dollar seller. This journey is just one of the many global treks that are part of PepsiCo’s new division, The Global Nutrition Group. This unit, led by Dr. Mehmood Khan, formerly a top endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, has been charged with finding new ways to lower sugar, salt and calories in both new and existing products. The documentary takes viewers inside PepsiCo’s high-tech research and development labs and new age test kitchens, to see first-hand how the company creates products and takes them from lab to launch.

With 19 different billion-dollar brands and a presence in more than 200 countries, PepsiCo continues to extend its staggering global reach. Holt travels with Nooyi on her annual visit to her native India, an emerging market crucial to PepsiCo’s future growth and one where Pepsi outsells Coke by more than three to two. For all of its successes in India, PepsiCo has had to confront a longstanding controversy over the extent to which operations at its bottling plants have contributed to the nation’s already pervasive water shortages. PepsiCo, along with other beverage companies including Coca-Cola, has been the object of intense scrutiny because of the large amounts of water it uses to produce its products. Critics charge that the bottlers have exacerbated a problem that is nearing a crisis situation. PepsiCo, which has worked to reduce its water consumption in India, believes it has ultimately been a force for good, and has introduced technologies that can help farm communities save water and use it more efficiently.

The documentary also tells the story of PepsiCo’s pioneering efforts to tap the unrealized potential of the African-American market by hiring the first all-black sales team. Seven decades after this team was founded, Lester Holt sits down with one of its original members, Allen McKeller, who describes in moving detail the obstacles and indignities he and his colleagues had to overcome in the Jim Crow South of the 1940’s.

For more information including slideshows and web extras, log onto:

Mitch Weitzner is the Senior Executive Producer of “Pepsi’s Challenge.” Lori Gordon Logan is Senior Producer. Ray Borelli is the Senior Vice President of Strategic Research, Scheduling and Long Form Programming.

CNBC’s “Pepsi’s Challenge” will re-air on Thursday, November 10th at 10PM ET/PT; Friday, November 11th at 10PM ET/PT and Sunday, November 13th at 10PM ET.

About CNBC:

With CNBC in the U.S., CNBC in Asia Pacific, CNBC in Europe, Middle East and Africa, CNBC World and CNBC HD+, CNBC is the recognized world leader in business news providing real-time data, analysis and information to more than 390 million homes worldwide. The network's 16 live hours a day of business programming in North America (weekdays from 4:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m.) is produced at CNBC's global headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and includes reports from CNBC News bureaus worldwide. and CNBC Mobile Web ( offer real-time stock quotes, charts, analysis and both on-demand and live streaming video.

Members of the media can receive more information about CNBC and its programming on the NBC Universal Media Village Web site at

Related Tags