Earlier this year, PepsiCo Egypt got the ball rolling on its first-ever exports push, which comes in sync with an investment drive of $550 million consigned to expand the company’s operations in Egypt, according to a company statement last month.
Business Forward spoke to chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Egypt Mohamed Shelbaya about the company’s plans to encourage more overseas investment and what it means for the future of the company.
Why has PepsiCo considered exporting to other markets and how are you working on maintaining a significant market share overseas?
The main business has been in Egypt. We made a promise to the country that we are going to invest $500 million over the next three years. A big part of this investment is directed at export activities. The Egyptian government is trying to penetrate the African market, and they are doing a great job. It has asked us to join forces and help them enter these markets, which would channel more foreign currency into the company and help create jobs. I make visits to the African markets, and I can tell you that there is a need for our snacks, beverages and dairy products. It is a win-win situation for both Egypt and the African market.
Why are you specifically focusing on African markets?
If you look at the world today, the income coming from the United States (US) and Europe is very small. But when you look at emerging markets, you have Africa’s untapped potential as a whole. If you invest in Africa, the return on investment is going to be much higher than investing in the US. Today, you have Africa, India and China – these are the emerging markets with growing populations. We are going to focus on driving growth through them over the next couple of years. Given Egypt’s unique location at the heart of Africa and old trade agreements that are favorable to us, shipping to Africa is easier.
What is the greatest exporting challenge the company has been facing?
Quality is a major challenge when it comes to exports. Unfortunately, there are some traders that look at export as a one-time opportunity, not a long-term business. The quality of the product is not on par with global standards. I think this is something we are facing. Every time they see products coming from Egypt, there are a lot of question marks on the products’ quality. Hence, we need to improve our quality consistency to make sure that the Egyptian name becomes an elite in the African market. This is something we are working on with the government in order to make sure that the products we export are conforming to the exact specifications.