PepsiCo Sees Kazakhstan as Gateway to Central Asia’s Economic Promise

ASTANA — Central Asia holds significant economic potential, and Kazakhstan provides the necessary economic and geopolitical stability for projects to thrive, stated David Manzini, the president of PepsiCo for Central Asia, Russia, Belarus, and the Caucasus, in an interview with The Astana Times during the official launch of the plant’s construction in the Almaty Region on June 14.

Yerzhan Yelekeyev, Chairman of Kazakh Invest, David Manzini, President of PepsiCo for Central Asia, Russia, Belarus, and the Caucasus, Gabidulla Ospankulov, Chairman of the Foreign Ministry’s Investment Committee, and US Ambassador David Rosenblum convened on June 14. Photo credit: The Astana Times.

Job creation 

Manzini noted that PepsiCo received substantial support from the local government in securing land for their investment. He shared that the new plant, poised to become the largest of its kind in Central Asia, will initially produce up to 16,000 tons of finished products annually, with plans to increase capacity to 21,000 tons by 2027.

Manzini noted that PepsiCo received substantial support from the local government in securing land for their investment. Photo credit: The Astana Times

“The project will create 350 direct jobs, but hundreds of other jobs will be created around the factory’s activity. So it is a very significant investment,” he said. 

Ainur Zhumanbayeva, an industry executive at Kazakh Invest national company, shared that this project is the result of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s visit to the United States in the fall of 2022 and required significant effort from both sides to finalize the agreements. 

Zhumanbayeva noted that the process was challenging because companies like PepsiCo undertake many steps before entering a new market. However, once they make that decision, their contributions are substantial.

Kazakh Invest facilitated the adaptation process for the multinational corporation entering the snack products market. 

“When any foreign company comes to Kazakhstan, they are like babies because they do not know our rules. They do not know how to start a business,” explained Zhumanbayeva. 

Kazakh Invest helps these companies by offering guidance, arranging meetings with ministries, and facilitating essential connections. This assistance enables foreign companies to navigate the local business environment effectively.

“The investment is substantial—$160 million. We hope it is just the first phase, and the company will increase production capacity and Kazakh labor,” she said. 

Manzini mentioned that the investment will likely proceed to a second phase, indicating potential future expansions in production capacity and local employment in Kazakhstan.

“It is a significant investment—more than $160 million for the first stage—and there will most likely be a second stage,” he said. 

Boost to agricultural development 

The project is anticipated to significantly enhance agricultural development in Kazakhstan, boosting farmers’ incomes and bolstering the national economy. Manzini emphasized PepsiCo’s commitment to sourcing local raw materials and indicated plans to finalize contracts with Kazakh farmers for initial potato test batches.

“We will need potatoes to produce our delicious Lay’s potato chips. So, the first stage of production, which will require 15,000 tons, will very quickly require 60,000 tons. We are not using the usual potatoes. We are using specific potatoes with lower starch and lower sugar levels,” he explained. 

Manzini said that PepsiCo’s agricultural team is currently assisting Kazakh local partner farmers in increasing their production capacity, and there are discussions with farmers to strategically plan and prepare for this increased production, which will significantly bolster Kazakhstan’s agricultural sector.

The U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan Daniel Rosenblum expressed his pleasure and honor at attending the launch event for PepsiCo’s new snack manufacturing plant in the Almaty Region. 

He emphasized that during his frequent meetings with U.S. company representatives interested in opportunities in Kazakhstan, he consistently encourages them to consider the country’s openness for business. Highlighting the strength of the Kazakh market and its potential as a regional hub for trade, manufacturing, and services, he underscored the attractiveness of investing in Kazakhstan.

“PepsiCo’s $160 million investment is one of the largest outside the extractive industries sector.  It demonstrates – and is indicative of – the deepening and broadening of the U.S. – Kazakhstan economic relationship,” he added.

During a meeting between Manzini and Kazakh Prime Minister Olzhas Betenov, it was revealed that the plant is included in a pool of priority investment projects under special government oversight. 

The plant’s launch represents a tangible outcome following President Tokayev’s visit to the U.S., showcasing effective collaboration between the government and private sector in advancing Kazakhstan’s economic diversification and prosperity goals.

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