Top of the pops: PepsiCo's Omar Farid


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Omar Farid is the PepsiCo Middle East and Africa president.

Omar Farid is the PepsiCo Middle East and Africa president.

It’s only appropriate that I offer Omar Farid a can of Pepsi as we start the interview.  He has been at the company for an impressive 31 years now, but the president of PepsiCo Middle East & Africa still doesn’t miss a trick to plug his products.

“Wow. That tastes good,” he says.

That “taste” is also worth a staggering $66.4bn in annual revenues for US-based PepsiCo, where 22 brands now generate more than a billion dollars each every year, sold across 200 countries. From Pepsi to 7Up, Doritos, Walkers and Tropicana to Gatorade,  the  company formed in 1965 by a merger between Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay is now undisputedly the second-largest food and beverage empire in the world.

And few of PepsiCo’s global  chiefs have more on their plate than Farid, with revenues from the Middle East & Africa estimated at over $3bn a year, with 15,000 direct employees on the books.

Farid’s strategy? Like many of his advertising campaigns, it is simple, clever and catchy: “The core and the more,” he says.

With about 90 percent of its revenue derived from soft drinks, investment will continue in key brands such as 7Up, Pepsi and Mirinda. However, he says it is focused on developing brands such as sports drink Gatorade, Aquafina water and Tropicana juice in response to the shift towards healthier options.

Perhaps when pondering how to take the firm forward, the US beverages and snacks giant could turn to one of its famous advertising campaigns: Change the Game.  PepsiCo, renowned for its celebrity endorsements and catchy slogans, is being forced to find its most creative business zest yet as figures show soda sales in its biggest market, the US, reached their lowest levels in almost two decades last year.

According to Beverage Digest, total sales volume for carbonated soft drinks fell by 3 percent in 2013 - the ninth straight year of decline – with consumers treading more warily as the anti-obesity message drives home.

More significant for PepsiCo, arch-rival Coca-Cola’s share of the US soft drinks market rose by 0.4 percent as PepsiCo’s shrank by the same margin after its soda sales volume experienced a 4.4 percent decline – twice the rate of Coca-Cola’s fall.

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