Mehmood Khan: Using Science To Develop New Tastes

Vice Chairman & Chief Scientific Officer, PepsiCo

Everyone knows PepsiCo as a global beverage powerhouse, but it takes a boatload of science to make that happen. As PepsiCo’s vice chairman and chief scientific officer, Dr. Mehmood Khan is the one responsible for developing the newest textures, tastes, and products for PepsiCo consumers around the globe. Khan, an endocrinologist by training, oversees a global R&D team that includes experts in areas such as agronomy, exercise physiology, metabolomics, rheology, computational analysis, and nutrition science. 

“In recent years, PepsiCo recruited scientific talent no one ever expected to see inside a traditional food and beverage company,” Khan explains. From his Purchase lab—and PepsiCo’s R&D centers around the world— Khan and his team are currently intent on inventing entirely new convergent food and beverage categories. For example, a new big winner in the Chinese market has been Quaker High Fiber Dairy Oat Drink, a portable, ready-to-drink breakfast beverage. 

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Another example is Mountain Dew Kickstart, a mid-calorie carbonated soft drink with 5 percent juice and just 80 calories per 16-ounce serving. Innovation at PepsiCo, Khan says, “is all about delivering the products consumers are seeking. That’s why we begin by listening, by putting the consumer at the center of the innovation process.”

Photograph by Toshi Tasaki

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