PepsiCo joins Mexico's hunger-fighting initiative

Mexico City, Apr 9 (EFE).- U.S.-based food giant PepsiCo has signed an agreement with the Social Development Secretariat to join the Mexican government's National Crusade against Hunger, a program aimed at dealing with malnutrition among low-income people.

The program callse for creating and distributing nutritious food products, promoting sustainable food production projects in different communities and providing assistance to victims of natural disasters.

Pepsico's Quaker Oats unit will provide the research support for producing two products for fighting hunger.

"It's two products - a cracker and an atole (a traditional gruel made from flour dissolved in water or milk), foods that are in fourth and 10th place in the target population's diet," PepsiCo Mexico president Pedro Padierna said.

"These foods will be accessible in terms of price and distribution, and they will contribute to complementing the nutritional needs of Mexicans," Padierna said.

The National Crusade against Hunger was announced on Jan. 21 by President Enrique Peña Nieto, who said one of every four Mexicans suffers from some kind of nutritional deficiency.

Mexico, a country of 112 million people, registered 11,000 deaths from malnutrition in 2011, government figures show.

A total of 8,000 of these deaths were caused by lack of access to basic foods and the rest were due to other hunger-related problems.

The National Crusade against Hunger, which was officially launched on April 1, relies on 70 social programs focusing on health, education and agricultural development.

The programs are slated to receive funding of 294 billion pesos ($23.15 billion) this year.