News Briefs


PepsiCo Opens Center To Potentially Triple Packaging Testing

pepsico R&D

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay and Quaker brands have opened a greenhouse learning center at their R&D headquarters that may triple the company's packaging certification timeline. 

Part of PepsiCo’s Pep+ initiative, the facility will be used to field test, measure, and analyze compostable packaging with the goal of accelerating innovation and enabling packaging products to move from testing to certification-ready at least two to three times faster. 

The R&D packaging team will test the biodegradation properties of compostable packages in different environments, as well as validate lab results through simultaneous, real-time experiments to improve packaging formulations and iterate packaging solutions quicker, said the company. 

"Our sustainable packaging vision is to build a world where packaging need never becomes waste," said Denise Lefebvre, SVP of R&D for PepsiCo, in a statement. "We're actively changing our own compostable snack packaging technologies. By sharing these technologies, we're inviting the industry to make these changes as well. We are prioritizing, investing in and expediting projects to build a more circular, inclusive economy."

The facility is the first of its kind for the company and is located next to and complements the existing prototyping lab where compostable packaging is born. It will also educate partners and stakeholders on the benefits of transitioning to compostable packaging, demonstrate circularity with biodegradable materials, and provide training to co-ops and visitors.


Levi’s Taps AI for Body-Inclusive Avatars


Levi Strauss & Co is now leveraging artificial intelligence to create virtual body-inclusive avatars that will supplement the company’s human models to increase diversity and elevate the consumer experience. 

Amy Gershkoff Bolles, global head of digital and emerging technology strategy at Levi Strauss & Co., said the tech allows Levi’s to create “hyper-realistic models of every body type, age, size, and skin tone.”

Levi’s is working with, an AI-powered digital fashion studio, to expand its model availability. Right now, the company’s e-commerce site and app typically showcases one model per product. The company hopes to increase the number of models to unlock a future “where we can enable more customers to see our products on more models that look like themselves, creating a more personal and inclusive shopping experience.”

“While AI will likely never fully replace human models for us, we are excited for the potential capabilities this may afford us for the consumer experience,” said Gershkoff Bolles. “We see fashion and technology as both an art and a science.” 

Levi’s said it will continue focusing on its digital transformation journey, balancing digital fundamentals while investing emerging tech that will improve the customer experience. 


AB InBev Lays Groundwork For Further Digital Innovation and Transformation

ab inbev factory

AB InBev is preparing for its next phase of expansion, enhancing its global connectivity and productivity-boosting systems and evolving its digital infrastructure platform to fit with longer-term plans. 

The beer company has tapped Orange Business to spearhead the initiative in Europe. The two companies will work to overhaul legacy systems and improve connectivity between AB InBev’s 70 European locations and its Belgium headquarters. As part of the project, Orange Business will move voice services to SIP-based solutions and transition employees to a Microsoft Teams environment. 

Pieter Bruyland, VP of solutions Europe at AB InBev outlined the beer company’s broader ambitions in the region – including the implementation of smart breweries, expansion of its digital footprint, boosting its cybersecurity infrastructure, and automating more processes across the ecosystem – and expressed optimism about how the renewed partnership with Orange will fit into these plans. 

The brewing company is driving significant expansion efforts into brand partnerships across the globe. Kraft Heinz recently announced plans to implement AB InBev’s BEES e-commerce platform in order to grow its reach within emerging markets in LATAM. Speaking at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) investors conference last month, Rafael de Oliveira, Kraft Heinz EVP and president of international markets described how they aimed to reach more than 1 million potential new points of sales in Latin America alone as a result of the partnership. 


Nestlé Pilots Refillable Cereal Vending Machines

nestle vending machine

Nestlé is taking the next step in a pilot exploring alternative packaging through refillable cereal vending machines 

Located in Indonesia, this pilot is an extension of one in 2021, in which consumers could purchase cereal products from tricycle carts with refillable dispensing systems. Here, consumers can bring their own containers to two retailers or purchase containers there. Scanning a QR code unlocks access to such product information as ingredients, shelf life, and nutritional values. The machines are said to account for food freshness factors, such as heat and humidity. 

See also: Nestlé Leveraging VR to Create and Test Virtual Product Prototypes

This pilot, which is expected to last four to six months, involves Nestlé Milo and Koko Krunch brands and was developed in collaboration with start-up Qyos by Algramo. 

Gaelle de Mestral, head of R&D packaging at Nestlé, said the company is actively exploring alternative delivery systems such as bulk, reuse and refill options across several product categories. “By undertaking this second pilot for Milo and Koko Krunch, we'll be able to gain new insights that can be applied to our products, as well further assess the refillable system's effectiveness in preventing packaging waste along the supply chain.”

Nestlé, which is the No. 1 publicly owned consumer goods company, has executed more than 20 pilot tests for reuse and refill systems in 12 countries. 


Munchkin Names Alan Wizemann Chief Digital Officer


Children’s product company Munchkin is further investing in its digital strategy and online growth, naming Alan Wizemann to the role of chief digital officer. Wizemann, who was entered into the company’s board of directors in early 2022, will be managing technology advancements across the enterprise and monitoring their success. 

He brings an extensive background across IT and the development of software and services, previously serving as chief digital and technology officer at Quip NYC, chief digital officer at Dollar Shave Club, interim chief digital officer at Goop, VP of guest experiences and digital product at lululemon, interim chief product officer at WebMD, and VP of

Steven B. Dunn, Munchkin's founder and CEO, said Wizemann will help establish the company as a leading digital, DTC, data-driven, customer-centric organization “with innovative products and solutions at the core.”

"Since joining Munchkin's board, I have been continually impressed with the team, products, and culture built within this organization," said Wizemann in a statement. "The opportunity to expand digital at Munchkin is astounding. I look forward to utilizing my experience and offering fresh ideas to unlock a new phase of growth for the business."


Tyson Ventures Invests in Cloud-Based Carbon Tracking Technology


Tyson Ventures, the venture capital arm of Tyson Foods, Inc., has invested in a cloud-based transactional carbon credit inset solution for the livestock sector. The program works to support the reduction of carbon emissions, providing economic incentives to farmers who take action to boost sustainability and enable more eco-friendly practices in their day-to-day work. 

Tyson Ventures has invested in Athian, an analytics tool that captures data points across the dairy and beef value chain, then aggregates, validates, and certifies greenhouse gas reductions. The platform then finally monetizes the reductions and sells them as carbon credits, allowing farmers to earn revenue from carbon reductions. The program is set to launch in the latter half of this year. 

Tyson Foods has drilled down on tech investments over the last few years. In a webinar presented by CGT, Devin Graham, VP of cloud and infrastructure at Tyson Foods, outlined some of the company’s key cloud transformations, including plans to reduce manual processes, streamline workflows, and do away with legacy practices, given that Tyson did not start out as a cloud-native or even tech-centric company. In 2021, Tyson also invested in artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, bolstering investments in automation and advanced tech to make jobs safer and cut costs.