POLAND – American food and drink giant PepsiCo has inaugurated a 1bn PLN ($238m) snack plant in the southwestern village of Święte, its fifth plant in Poland and its biggest investment so far in the country.

The fifth plant is also the company’s first facility in the European Union designed to measure CO2 emissions, to achieve net zero emissions by 2035.

Carbon reduction is a vital strategic move for PepsiCo and a key tenet of its pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) ambition.

The 54,700m2 facility includes a 23,000m2 production hall, a purification plant, warehouses, and offices and will dramatically increase the scale of production of the popular potato chips brands, which are scheduled for 20 European markets, including Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.

“We are working with Polish farmers developing the production of potatoes processed into Lay’s crisps,” said Silviu Popovici, head of PepsiCo’s operations in Europe.

Among the features of the new factory designed to help it reduce its environmental impact are solar panels, wastewater sub-treatment plants, electric car charging points, and tanks to collect rainwater, which is treated and used in the factory.

Popovici added that the facility was established in Poland in part because “PepsiCo has very good cooperation with the [Polish] government”, reports the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

The company, which opened its first facility in Poland 30 years ago, currently employs more than 3,000 people in the country.

PepsiCo first entered the Polish market more than three decades ago, and currently has four plants in the country – in Grodzisk Mazowiecki and Tomaszów Mazowiecki (snacks) and Michrów and Żnin (beverages) – contributing towards 32,000 jobs across the value chain.

The new plant will help create 450 jobs to boost the economy in Poland. PepsiCo currently processes around 200,000 tonnes of sustainably grown Polish potatoes a year for its Lay’s potato chips.

Factoring in supply for the new plant, the company is looking to expand its Polish farming program to cover 19,000 acres (7,700 hectares) over 80 farms by 2025.

Silviu Popovici, CEO of PepsiCo Europe, said the location for the climate-smart facility was chosen because “Poland is a strategic market with a significant development potential,” while “PepsiCo has very good cooperation with the government.

“The opening of this new, environmentally sustainable snack facility is a major milestone for PepsiCo in Europe. We would like to thank our associates and our partners for helping us reimagine the future of food and bringing this facility to life,” noted Popovici.

US ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski noted the ‘strong interest’ from investors, adding foreign investment in the country in 2021-22 had reached a ‘record-breaking’ 110bn PLN (US$26.28m).

He applauded PepsiCo for continuing to invest in Poland and its people by substantially expanding its footprint.

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